“How can they not read a book twice the size of the largest Harry Potter book and actually expect to know what it says?”
(From Jake, Age 12)
On Friday the House of Representatives passed the Cap and Trade bill, also known as H.R. 2998, Waxman-Markey Energy Tax Bill. Its final form contained 1500 pages. In the early hours of the morning in which congressional debate was scheduled, a 300 page amendment was added. Question: which of our congressmen read all 1500 pages? Who read the amendment? And today’s million dollar question: who voted on the bill without reading its contents? Who assumed they knew all that was included without reading the actual legislation?
Let me even quote Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) during committee hearings: “I certainly don’t claim to know everything that’s in this bill.” Um, Waxman is the bill’s co-sponsor.
(Psst... see the words from my son above.)
Sadly, this congressional injustice not only applies to cap and trade. Remember the billion dollar stimulus package passed in February?
According to CNSNews.com, “Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) predicted on Thursday that none of his Senate colleagues would ‘have the chance’ to read the entire final version of the $790-billion stimulus bill before the bill comes up for a final vote in Congress... Of the several senators that CNSNews.com interviewed on Thursday, only Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) claimed to have read the entire bill--and he was speaking of the preliminary version that had been approved by the Senate, not the final 999-page version that the House-Senate conference committee was still haggling over on Thursday afternoon. When CNSNews.com asked members of both parties on Capitol Hill on Thursday whether they had read the full, final bill, not one member could say, ‘Yes.’"
What?! Should any of us be sitting down?! How can our elected representation claim to represent us well if they are not even reading the proposed legislation? Is our government so eager to flaunt its resume that the legislative branch is not taking the time (and thus discernment) in order to act responsibly? Is it too strong a statement to declare this practice as ridiculous??
Note: On June 16th, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced H.R. 554, which would amend House rules to require that legislation and conference reports be available on the Internet for 72 hours before consideration by the House (See Baird’s project at www.readthebill.org). Let us watch what our astute congressmen think of this proposal.
Nonetheless, the same thing keeps running through my head. I think of the saying that “a little child will lead them.”
And then I think of my 12 year old... wishing our congressmen would listen to him.