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June 16, 2007

The President Wants Congress to Read the Bills

Today’s Downsizer Dispatch . . .

Subject: The President Wants Congress to Read the Bills


“The RTBA: Read the Bills Act would make it a requirement that proposed legislation be posted to the internet for 7 days prior to a vote in Congress and that the bills actually be read in Congress before the vote. Sounds like a good idea. Of course, it wouldn’t be possible to have gargantuan complicated bills so Congress would need to change the way they approach the task of legislation.”

-from the blog Connecticut Taxed


* President is frustrated with members of Congress who didn’t read the bill.
* Last Week in Congress
* New RTBA Coalition Member


President George Bush made two illuminating points in remarks he made two weeks ago.  Speaking of Congressional critics of the proposed 790-page Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill (S. 1348), Bush said,

“Oh, I’m sure you’ve heard some of the talk out there about people defining the bill. It’s clear they hadn’t read the bill. They’re speculating about what the bill says, and they’re trying to rile up people’s emotions.”

Later on, he said,

“Those determined to find fault with this bill will always be able to look at a narrow slice of it and find something they don’t like. If you want to kill the bill, if you don’t want to do what’s right for America, you can pick one little aspect out of it, you can use it to frighten people.”

  Source: The White House

The first quote suggests President Bush wants members of Congress to actually read the bill before criticizing it. Does that mean he would support Downsize DC’s Read the Bills Act?

Well, taking the two quotes together, it looks like the President wants something like the opposite of the RTBA. Downsize DC’s bill would require supporters of a bill to read it in its entirety before voting for it. But we don’t believe opponents of a bill should have to waste their time reading the whole thing. Disagreeing with a bill’s intent, or with just one provision, are sufficient reasons to oppose it.

The President, on the other hand, wants critics of the bill to read it first, as if criticizing a bill that would alter the course of the country is akin to criticizing a movie one hasn’t even seen. On the other hand, according to the President, it seems the bill’s supporters are actually better off if they don’t read the entire bill. It is better for supporters to overlook the bill’s unacceptable provisions, the provisions that might, as the President put it, “frighten people.” Again, it’s as if the immigration bill is a movie. The Wizard of Oz frightens small children, but it’s still a good movie. Likewise, some “little aspects” of the immigration bill may “frighten” friends of liberty and small government, but it’s still a good bill.

Downsize DC disputes that logic. And thanks in part to your messages to Congress, this particular controversial immigration bill was abandoned. (Though the fight isn’t over yet; we just found out the bill might be back on the  Senate floor as soon as late next week.) Mr. President, you can be sure that Downsize DC will, without apology, continue to “pick one little aspect” of bills to “frighten people,” for as long as Congress proposes legislation that infringes on the liberty and privacy of the American people. We are sure to have less frightening bills after we pass the Read the Bills Act.

We don’t complain about gridlock. We didn’t like the immigration bill, but we’re not complaining that the Senate wasted a week in debate before abandoning it. That meant they didn’t pass other bills. Since most bills increase the size of the federal government, that’s a good thing.

The House passed 15 bills totaling 242 pages. I’ve appended a full list of this legislation below, after my signature. The main theme seems to be federal meddling in science and education. The largest piece of legislation, however, is an Afghanistan nation-building bill. We believe the Read the Bills Act would cut down on the number of bills and the length of bills, so that Congress would address only the most pressing national concerns, leaving individuals, markets, and state and local government handle the rest. You can send a message to Congress urging it to introduce and pass the Read the Bills Act by going here.


We have one new addition to the Read the Bills Act Coalition this week:


If you have a website or blog, you too can be a part of the Coalition and be linked to from the blog. You can read the instructions for joining the Read the Bills Act Coalition here.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer, and please consider making a contribution or starting a monthly pledge to further our work. You can do so here.

James Wilson

Assistant to the President, Inc.

These are the bills Congress passed the week of June 8. The descriptions are taken, generally verbatim, from the Congressional Record’s Daily Digests:

H.R. 1139 – Riverside-Corona Feeder Water Supply Act, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to plan, design and construct facilities to provide water for irrigation, municipal, domestic, and other uses from the Bunker Hill Groundwater Basin, Santa Ana River, California; 4 pages

H.R. 1736 – Amending the Reclamation Projects Authorization and Adjustment Act of 1992 to provide for conjunctive use of surface and groundwater in Juab County, Utah: H.R. – 4 pages

H.R. 1175 – Amending the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act to increase the ceiling on the Federal share of the costs of phase I of the Orange County, California, Regional Water Reclamation Project – 4 pages

H.R. 361 – Lower Rio Grande Valley Water Resources Conservation and Improvement Act of 2007 – 8 pages

H.R. 1469 – Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act of 2007, to establish the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation under the authorities of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 – 28 pages

S. 1537 – Authorizing the transfer of certain funds from the Senate Gift Shop Revolving Fund to the Senate Employee Child Care Center, -clearing the measure for the President – 21 pages

H.R. 1051 – National STEM Scholarship Database Act to direct the Secretary of Education to establish and maintain a public website through which individuals may find a complete database of available scholarships, fellowships, and other programs of financial assistance in the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – 6 pages

H.R. 2559 – Temporarily extending the programs under the Higher Education Act of 1965 – 2 pages

H.R. 1467 – 10,000 Trained by 2010 Act:, to authorize the National Science Foundation to award grants to institutions of higher education to develop and offer education and training programs – 12 pages
H.R. 1716 – Green Energy Education Act of 2007: to authorize higher education curriculum development and graduate training in advanced energy and green building technologies – 6 pages

H.R. 632 – H-Prize Act of 2007 to authorize the Secretary of Energy to establish monetary prizes for achievements in overcoming scientific and technical barriers associated with hydrogen energy – 16 pages

H.R. 964 – Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass (Act Spy Act ) to protect users of the Internet from unknowing transmission of their personally identifiable information through spyware programs – 36 pages

H.R. 2446 – Afghanistan Freedom and Security Support Act of 2007 –  84 pages

S. 5 – Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 –  3 pages

H.R. 65 – to provide for the recognition of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina – 8 pages



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