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September 29, 2009

It’s worth your while to pass this nearly worthless rule

Quotes of the Day:A pork-laden ‘stimulus’ spending bill, a debt-laden budget, a job-killing national energy tax and other bills have been rammed through the House . . . without even allowing the American people to know what’s in the bills.” — House Republican leader John Boehner

“Members of Congress should read every major piece of legislation before casting their vote. Congress and the American people deserve three days to read the bills. This discharge petition is a critical step in the right direction.” — Representative Mike Pence, Republican, Indiana

Subject: How the nearly worthless 72-hour rule could help pass the “Read the Bills Act”

Your pressure is having an impact. The quotes above are evidence of it. So is this . . .

H. Res 554 would change the rules of the House of Representatives to require that all non-emergency legislation be posted on the Internet for 72 hours before a vote. In our view . . .

* This rule is a response to’s “Read the Bills Act.”
* Its purpose is to make it look like Congress is doing something about reading the bills, without imposing any requirements that will really make a difference
* The rule is almost completely worthless, but passing it could help pave the way for our “Read the Bills Act.”

How can we say that the 72-hour rule is nearly worthless?

First, the current rules already require that readable copies of bills be provided to Congress three days before a vote (although the rule is rarely followed). In other words, H. Res. 554 merely changes the description of the requirement from 3 days to 72 hours. In addition . . .

The only thing really new about this rule change is that readable copies of bills are also supposed to be made available to the public on the Internet for 3 days (72 hours) before a vote. But even this change is nearly worthless because it’s only a rule, and not a law . . .

* It can be waved in many instances, and doesn’t apply in others
* It only applies to the House, and not the Senate
* There is no enforcement mechanism to impose a penalty on Congress if legislation is passed in violation of the rule

This rule change also fails to deliver many things that are needed to actually change Congressional behavior. There is . . .

* No requirement that any bill actually be read by a single member of Congress
* No requirement that the bill be read aloud to a quorum of the members — thus, there’s no incentive to reduce the size and number of bills passed
* Insufficient reading time — 72 hours isn’t enough time to read many of the monster-sized bills that Congress routinely enacts

In other words, H. Res. 554 will do almost nothing meaningful to stop irresponsible behavior by Congress. It will, however, help pave the way for the passage of’s “Read the Bills Act.”

* With so many co-sponsors (128!) this proposed rule change demonstrates that YOUR pressure is working, and . . .
* Congress is painting itself into a corner . . . 

A watered-down attempt to appease us (to relieve the pressure Congress is feeling) was inevitable. Let’s get it out of the way. When people see how poorly the 72-hour rule performs, the case for our “Read the Bills Act” will become that much stronger.

That’s why we want to see H. Res. 554 passed, as quickly as possible. Here’s what you need to know to make that happen . . .

* The House leadership doesn’t want H. Res. 554 to come to a vote, even though it really wouldn’t change anything. So . . .
* Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR), John Culberson (R-TX) and Brian Baird (D-WA) are circulating a discharge petition to force a vote of the whole House, despite the objections of the leadership.
* The petition needs the signatures of 218 House members, and it now has 178
* 40 more signatures are needed to bring the 72-hour rule to a vote
* Please click here to see if your Representative has signed the discharge petition
* Then, send a letter to Congress urging passage of H. Res 554

Use your personal comments to do the following . . .

* If your Representative has signed the discharge peition thank him or her
* If not, ask him or her to please do so
* Ask your Senators to pass a similar rule

It’s worth repeating — your pressure is having an impact! Keep pushing! Let’s get H. Res. 554 passed. It’s an important step toward getting the “Read the Bills Act” enacted.

Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army. To see how much your Army is growing please check out the Keeping Score report below my signature.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.


We made a mistake in yesterday’s report. We didn’t shrink by 12 net new members, we grew by that many. And today . . .

Your Downsize DC Army grew by 9 net new members. This brings our total growth for the year to 3,904. The Downsize DC Army now stands at 28,252, 25% of the way between 28,000 and 29,000. 

YOU can make the army KEEP GROWING by following our quick and easy instructions for personalized recruiting.

We can also grow faster by spreading the word through the media. Please help us do this by starting a monthly credit card pledge — it can be as low as $5 a month (which is just 17 cents per day). You can start your pledge using our secure online contribution form.

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