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Congress Should Read Before Voting

July 5, 2012 by  

Congress Should Read Before Voting
Senator Rand Paul wants Congress to read bills before voting on them.

Would you recommend to a friend a book you hadn’t read?

This is akin to what many members of Congress do every time they vote, albeit which much more dire circumstances than suggesting a poorly written novel to a friend. Members of Congress routinely create and then vote on bills that are hundreds of pages long and contain legislation pertaining to unrelated issues.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced last week that he thinks this is ridiculous. On Friday, he introduced a bill that would give legislators one full day to read for every 20 pages of legislation presented before a vote is held.

Paul blasted the Senate last week just before it approved a massive bill extending highway funding, Federal flood insurance and low student loan rates in a span of 600 pages.

“For goodness sakes, this is a 600-page bill. I got it this morning,” Paul said Friday.

The highway-flood-student loan bill came up for vote just a day before authorization for highway spending was set to expire and two days before the interest rate on loans was set to double. Paul said that is no excuse for passing a bill without reading its contents.

The Senator also introduced separate legislation (SB 3359), that would prohibit the inclusion of more than one subject in a single bill.



Perhaps Congress didn’t realize they should read the bills they vote on because it goes unmentioned in “Schoolhouse Rock.”



Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • Harold Olsen

    I’ve come to the conclusion that politicians do not read the legislation they vote on due to the fact that they do not have the intelligence to do so. Even if they did condescend to read it, I doubt they have the intelligence to comprehend what they read.

    • Gary L

      Some are dumb enough to say things like “LET’S PASS IT SO WE CAN FIND OUT WHAT’S IN IT”. What’s worse than that is there are people who continue to vote for politicians who are the epitome of stupidity.

    • William Amann

      They should require every bill to be read to the entire chamber.Maybe then there wouldn`t be so much bulls–t in them! Would be funny listening to Pelosi read the entire healthcare bill, and find out what is in it!!!

      • Randy G

        She would fall asleep before the end of the first paragraph.

      • Donald

        Randy G. She would have to wake up first.

    • Agi Groff

      I would like to suggest to Congress That they read “WHAT I SAW THAT DAY Israel’s June 8th, 1967 Holocaust of US Servicemen Aboard the USS LIBERTY and its Aftermath”
      by Phillip F. Tourney, USS LIBERTY SURVIVOR and Mark Glenn.

      “Until this –the prime mover of America’s slide into the garbage bin of history–is dealt with as it should be and indeed WOULD have been were it any other country, all other discussions are tantamount to Nero’s fiddling while Rome burns.”

      Please sign petition to congress to investigate the attack:INVESTIGATE THE ATTACK ON THE USS LIBERTY
      By Joe Meadors (Contact)

      • Agi Groff – INVESTIGATE THE ATTACK ON THE USS LIBERTY this petition … Flag petition as inappropriate … WHEREAS, this attack killed 34 members of the USS Liberty’s crew and wounded 174 other United States …

    • George Harris

      Surely you heard what someone, it may have been Pelosi, said about Obamacare. “If you want to know what’s in it, you will have to pass it.” Those may not be the exact words but the intention is obvious.
      Any of our congressmen and women who followed this advice and voted for this bill without reading it are idiots, unworthy of their position in Congress.

    • restorefreedom

      Why do they need to read it the lobbyists have already paid them off so what the f….? Isn’t it obvious??!!

  • Dwight Mann

    Bills need to be written by Congress, in simple 40 word structures. Then these bills need to be presented to the public for a vote via the internet. Power to the people!
    When Congress writes and then ratifies bills, is that not a conflict of interest?
    I think so, and that is why it is so corrupt.
    We need to update the way things are done in the governance of this Great Nation and stalwart Republic

    • Vigilant

      “Bills need to be written by Congress, in simple 40 word structures. Then these bills need to be presented to the public for a vote via the internet. Power to the people!
      When Congress writes and then ratifies bills, is that not a conflict of interest?”

      Congress does not “ratify” bills, the president “ratifies” by signature.

      Your “solution” would strike at the very heart of federalism and turn the country into a democracy, something the Founders were righlty against. No need for a legislative branch of government (or Constitution for that matter) under your very poorly conceived scheme.

      P.S. Many in this country do not have PCs/internet access.

  • http://Google Mike

    A simple suggestion for our legislators not requiring any special legislation: when presented with a legislative bill containing hundreds of pages of verbiage with a short notice vote, simply vote NO!

  • James Hay

    An Bill Shouldn’t Be Even Considered For Any Kind Of Vote Unless It Is Thoroughly Read First As Well As Congress Should Be Compelled To Vote On Any Bill At Such A Time When The American People Can Be Made Aware Of The Passage Of Any Bill Along With Complete Transparency In Regards Of Their Content. Congress Must Know What They Are Passing And The People Must Know What Their Congress Is Up To At All Times.

  • mark

    Rand Paul is a fraud who sold out his own father. Yeah, let’s put our faith behind this new trickster!

    • don

      actually when he endorsed romney ron paul had already quit taking contributions to his campaign and he acknowleged romneys winning. he was going to campaigning to push his ideals across. rand did not betray his father. probly would have been better if he would have stayed out of it

  • kategray

    Was it not said a while back that all bills to be presented had to be posted four days before vote?

  • john White

    I loved Schoolhouse Rock. Wish they were still doing it.

  • peter

    Seriously, is there anyone out there who takes notice of what Paul says?

  • Steve Mac Donald

    Who is it that writes the bills congress does not read??

  • dan

    I think medical doctors do well in Congress (as opposed to lawyers and liars)
    because they exercise the maxim of :
    First,do no harm
    They also follow procedure and directions

    I’m still voting for Ron Paul….
    Rand didn’t fall far from the tree
    (even if he seems to have taken a whack or two on the way down)

    • Mike

      Great idea Dan, split the vote and help get the potus re-elected.

      • George Harris

        I agrre, Mike. That is exactly what happened here in Massachusetts with the last governor’s election. The third party candidate took more votes from the Republican candidate than from the sitting Democrat. It certainly looks, in retrospect, like the third party candidate was a plant and the whole idea was concocted by the Democrats.
        I wish a third party was feasible in this country. I hate having to vote for the lesser of two evils. I’d vote for Ron Paul myself, if not for the result that you and I both expect.

  • Ron

    Sounds like common sense, but then there is none in Washington

  • Agi Groff

    Thank you Sam Rolley for posting your artickle, and for the videos, they were grate!

    Still fighting for Liberty, and the restoration of the Naval Vessel the USS LIBERTY’S rightful place in the Annels of Naval History.

    Everyone plese sign petition, and distribute widely!
    It is best if you Google it, because the gremlins are out there who do not want you to sign this.

  • Dhip

    Wrong. They need to pass it to find out what is in it accordring to Nancy Pelosi. Are there any intelligent people left in Congress?

  • fastfood

    What makes think they can read. Every see them tying to use a teleprompter?

  • r.p.

    Personally, I don’t think any bill should be more that 2 pages long. If it’s any longer than that, it probably has some unconstitutional provisions or porkbarrel funding in it. And as the Constitution requires it should be written in common english.

  • tlgeer

    If the bill that Rand Paul was talking about was H.R. 6064, it was introduced to the floor on 28 Jun 2012. Maybe he should get more competent personnel.

    • r.p.

      The video was posted on 29 June 2012.

  • Mary Ann Ludwig

    Around our house we have talked about this very thing for a very long time. Single subject bills, written in plain English and no “riders”. Riders are those nasty little bits that are tacked on to the original bill because they would never make it on their own. For example, you get a zillion dollar grant to someone’s cousin’s construction company to build a bridge to nowhere tacked on to a bill that punishes murder and mayhem. No one likes murder and mayhem so the bill slides through without question and cousin Ernie gets the zillion. Easily done. Single issue bills are the only way to go. Having them read aloud in session is the only way they will probably get read. Otherwise, a representative’s underlings will be told to read the thing and make a recommendation. The representative won’t even know if it is actually good or bad until it is too late. Besides, Congress needs a reason to actually be in session besides voting themselves raises and benefits.

    • Robert Rashbrooke

      Whist I have sympathy for the idea that all Bills should be short, in reality they often must be very long winded, in order that the PROPER INTENT cannot be misunderstood or misconstrued once it has passed into law. Every detail HAS to be included, otherwise think what ‘lawyers’ would do to the act, with their own interpretation.

      A British parliamentarian once said “We craft Bills with the best interests of the greater majority in mind” , in the case of UK by utilising 4 or 5 Civil Service lawyers, government employees. Once the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, ie the law of the land, 300 corporate lawyers set about trying to find loopholes in the law so that a small minority can unscrupulessly benefit from that loophole and non compliance with the law. Very likely the same here.

      But for Congressmen to vote for any Bill that they have not read and understood personally, not dependent on one of their minion’s interpretations, is entirely unconsionable and should not be tolerated. When Congress sits for less that 6 months each year, and their ONLY excuse for introducing Bills only a day or so before required passing dates when they have SO MUCH time available to them, is that of “points scoring “over their opposition, then they deserve not to be in their pampered position. But if history is any example, then their uninformed , disinterested constituents will probably vote them back into office.

    • Buck100

      Mary Ann Ludwig, I agree with you, on average the Congressmen and women make on average $270,000 salary a year and a great retirement. I don’t think the American public is asking for too much to ask them read what they are voting on. I also agree with the single issue bill idea. God bless you and your family

  • Rick

    When did common sense fall out of fashion? “Pass it to see what’s in it?” That violates Law Studies 101. You never sign any document without first reading it. And you do not buy a car from a stranger just on their say-so.

    • Jon

      Actually, less than 20% of Americans actually read and study mortgages or car loan contracts before signing them. Maybe we get the representation we deserve.

  • Liberterian

    What is Rand Paul whining about, aren’t politicians already bought and sold before hand. They already got the pound of flesh for their signiture.

    • Agi Groff

      If you are too jaded to get it, then go wallow in your nihilistic philosophy, but do it somewhere else. This is the liberty blog, for people who have not given up hope of taking back our country from foreign influences.
      Thank you Sam Rolley for posting your artickle, and for the videos, they were grate!

      Still fighting for Liberty, and the restoration of the Naval Vessel the USS LIBERTY’S rightful place in the Annels of Naval History.

      Everyone plese sign petition, and distribute widely!
      It is best if you Google it, because the gremlins are out there who do not want you to sign this.

      • Liberterian

        Why don’t you get with reality, Rand Paul is a phoney far from what his dad is and he will never be any more. Go wallow in your imaginary world.

  • Agi Groff

    How hard is it to sign a petition? Even if you think it is grasping at straws, we have to try every angel to regain our Liberty from foreign influence on our government.
    For all the people who say Ron Paul is unelectable if they just voted for him he would also win. I believe he will, he must for all our sake, and for the sake of PEACE. The whole world is counting on us! Let’s not blow it by bickering.

  • JustAnotherJoe

    It is one thing when politicians pass laws that they cannot be bothered with reading ahead of time, and make sure to exempt themselves from. I am starting to believe, though, that voters in America are even more pathetic and incompetent than our politicians, seeing is how they keep re-electing these same senators to Congress over and over again. Or, perhaps the sad fact is, the majority of voters are accurately reflected by the people they elect to rule over them. Meanwhile, those voters who see what is going on, are left out in the cold at the polls on election day. It is too bad that those who do not want to be ruled by such incompetent leaders could not exempt themselves from those who think it is a great idea to have such idiocy running amok in the highest levels of government.

    • George Harris

      I agree totally, Joe.
      What we need, besides new politicians, is the 28th(?) Amendment.
      ‘Congress shall pass no law that does not also apply to themselves.’
      That would be a start.
      I would also add the stipulation that if one can be exempt, any and all can be exempt.

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