News Columns & Blogs

Reading every bill harder than it sounds

It sounds like a fine idea — getting members of Congress to take a pledge to read "every word" of every bill before voting on it. But the Read to Vote "proposal would bring government to a standstill," the Washington Post editorialized. Reading all 1,427 pages of the Waxman-Markey energy bill would take at least 12 hours. Realize that the House handled 7,441 bills and joint resolutions during the 110th Congress, and you can see the problem, especially if legislators also are expected to go to hearings, meet with constituents, help craft bills and conduct other business. Though big bills should not be rushed to a vote without time for review, the editorial argued, members of Congress need not be "shuttered for half of every workday just to read through 'every word' of every bill that might come to a vote. At some point, it's fine for members of Congress to rely on expert staff members." To their credit, though, Kansas Republican Reps. Todd Tiahrt, Jerry Moran and Lynn Jenkins are among the 118 members of Congress who've taken a separate pledge to read any health care reform legislation before they vote on it.

  Comments