Americans are counting on Congress to craft legislation that will effectively and responsibly address critical issues. Unfortunately, on the most important matters of the day, like the economy, energy and health care, Democrat majority leaders have been consistently unwilling to allow an open process that results in the practical and effective solutions that the people want from their representatives.
Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of using “fast-track” procedures in the past as a way to rush legislation to a vote. Under the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, the Democratic majority has repeatedly forced passage of staggeringly expensive legislation without first allowing meaningful debate, opportunity for both sides to offer amendments or even enough time to thoroughly read and understand legislation.
Earlier this year, families, communities and businesses nationwide called on Congress to craft an economic stimulus package to jumpstart the economy and create jobs. Rather than heed their call, Speaker Pelosi rushed a 1,075 page bill with a trillion-dollar price tag to a vote after allowing members and the public only fifteen hours to read the final legislation.
In June, the Democrat leadership set its sights on enacting sweeping new environmental legislation known as “cap and trade” that would affect every American family and business. In the days before the House voted on the bill, the legislative text grew from 946 pages to 1,201 pages. Although both Republicans and Democrats attempted to offer more than 200 amendments to craft a better solution for America, the Rules Committee only permitted one amendment to be debated on the House floor. The final legislation (H.R. 2454) was not available for review until 3:09 a.m. on the morning of the vote.
It is past time for this practice to stop.
Both the American people and their representatives should have a reasonable opportunity to read a bill and understand its impact and cost before the vote. That is why I am a co-sponsor of H.Res. 554, a bipartisan resolution that would require all non-emergency legislation to be posted online, in its final form, for at least 72 hours prior to a floor vote.
In an effort to ensure this important legislation is brought to the House floor without delay, I recently joined 182 of my colleagues in signing a “discharge petition” that would force Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow a vote on H.Res. 554. A discharge petition with 218 signatures or more is a procedural tool that forces a vote on legislation when the Speaker refuses to allow consideration on the House floor. You can read H.Res. 554 and find an up-to-date list of co-sponsors and signatures on the discharge petition by visiting www.thomas.gov and entering the bill number.
Elected representatives cannot do their job properly without the time to read and fully digest the legislation upon which they are voting. With a potential vote on health care reform on the horizon, this issue is more imperative than ever. Americans deserve the opportunity to review the legislation and share their views on it with elected representatives before it comes to the floor. H.Res. 554 would ensure that Congress and the people have the time to at least read the final bill before voting on health care reform legislation that will have generational implications.
Congressman Geoff Davis