Today's Downsizer-Dispatch . . .
From around the Web:
"This year a Democratic majority took power on Capitol Hill. But new leadership has done nothing to address an old problem: Lawmakers racing to pass bills they haven't actually read." - Ed Feulner, Washington Times
We most certainly agree. Last week, the Senate passed 314 pages of legislation. Not to be outdone, the House passed a whopping 646 pages. If the parties won't change, we must change the process. And that is why we are pressuring Congress to pass the Read the Bills Act.
"[Rep. Bill ]Johnson said the new [SCHIP] bill was a political ploy. It was about 300 pages long and introduced around midnight the night before with 'zero input' from moderate Republicans who didn't even know it was coming, he said.'We had, literally, an hour to look at it, read 300 pages,' he added. - Debra Pressey, News-Gazette
Rep. Johnson, we applaud your conscientious concern about not having time to read the bill before voting on it. Does this mean we can expect you to vote against any bill you haven't read? Does this mean we can expect you to introduce the Read the Bills Act?
"The truth is, S. 2084 -- and its House counterpart, H.R. 2640 -- may claim to deal with 'school safety,' but its real aim is to take away people's gun rights. ... Read the ENTIRE BILL, not just a few lines here and there. And after you've read the bill, please look at the underlying law and regulations which are referenced in the bill." - Pre-written letter to Senators from Gun Owners of America.
We agree with Gun Owners of America, but they really shouldn't have to make this request. It should be EXPECTED that legislators read and fully understand the bills they are considering. Indeed, it should be the LAW.
Szandor Blestman and John Wallace explain why we need the RTBA:
"It just makes sense that lawmakers should be required to read any bill to be put to a vote before voting on it. After all, isn’t that what we’re paying them for? How can they represent you if they don’t even know what the bills they’re voting on say? Are we supposed to trust their staffers and the lobbyists they work with to be honest with them about the meanings of the bills they vote on? ... To vote for or against a bill on the word of another without reading and understanding it is not how one should go about representing the people of one’s district, it is foolish and it is negligent. - Szandor Blestman, American Chronicle
The 'Read the Bills Act' would not only eliminate a lot of poor legislation, it would also encourage elected representatives to propose legislation that is brief, understandable and to the point. The openness of the process will help reduce or possibly even eliminate the current practice of adding billions of dollars of non-related pork barrel amendments to 'must pass' budget measures and other key legislation. - John W. Wallace, candidate for Congress, News Blaze
If you agree with Mr. Blestman and Mr. Wallace, tell your Representative! Tell you Senators! And please tell them to pass the Read the Bills Act.
After you do this, please use our tell-a-friend feature. And if you have a website, tell your readers too! One easy way to do that is to join the Read the Bills Act Coalition. You will drive traffic to our RTBA page, and we will link to you at our blog. To learn more, click here.
This week we welcome three new members to the Coalition:
Yearning to Breathe Free
No Socialism in the United States
Finally, for a list of the bills the Senate and House passed last week, please check out the blog version of this Dispatch.
Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.
Assistant to the President
The following are the bills the House and Senate passed last week. The bills were passed by voice vote except where indicated. Roll call votes for the House are found here
, and for the Senate here
. The descriptions of bills are essentially taken verbatim from the Congressional Record Daily Digest.
Page numbers of bills are based on the pdf display of the latest version from the Government Printing Office.
HOUSE 27 bills 646 pages
Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Act of 2007: H.R. 189, amended, to establish the Paterson Great Falls National Park in the State of New Jersey, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 256 yeas to 122 nays, Roll No. 983. 11 pages
Denali National Park and Alaska Railroad Land Exchange Act of 2007: H.R. 830, amended, to authorize the exchange of certain lands in Denali National Park in the State of Alaska. 5 pages
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park Boundary Adjustment Act: H.R. 2197, to modify the boundary of the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in the State of Ohio. 3 pages
Mesa Verde National Park Boundary Expansion Act of 2007: H.R. 783, amended, to modify the boundary of Mesa Verde National Park. 6 pages
Providing for certain administrative and support services for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission: H.R. 2094, amended, to provide for certain administrative and support services for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission. 10 pages
Douglas County, Washington, PUD Conveyance Act: H.R. 523, amended, to require the Secretary of the Interior to convey certain public land located wholly or partially within the boundaries of the Wells Hydroelectric Project of Public Utility District No. 1 of Douglas County, Washington, to the utility district, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 377 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 984. 5 pages
Virgin Islands National Park School Lease Act: H.R. 53, amended, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to enter into a long-term lease with the Government of the United States Virgin Islands to D1396provide land on the island of Saint John, Virgin Islands, for the establishment of a school. 3 pages
Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance, and Immediate Response Act: H.R. 767, amended, to protect, conserve, and restore native fish, wildlife, and their natural habitats at national wildlife refuges through cooperative, incentive-based grants to control, mitigate, and eradicate harmful nonnative species. 24 pages
Coral Reef Conservation Amendments Act of 2007: H.R. 1205, amended, to reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000. 28 pages
Platte River Recovery Implementation Program and Pathfinder Modification Authorization Act: H.R. 1462, amended, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the implementation of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program for Endangered Species in the Central and Lower Platte River Basin and to modify the Pathfinder Dam and Reservoir. 9 pages
Providing for a feasibility study of alternatives to augment the water supplies of the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District and cities served by the District: H.R. 1337, amended, to provide for a feasibility study of alternatives to augment the water supplies of the Central Oklahoma Master Conservancy District and cities served by the District. 4 pages
Santa Ana River Water Supply Enhancement Act of 2007: H.R. 813, amended, to amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the Prado Basin Natural Treatment System Project, to authorize the Secretary to carry out a program to assist agencies in projects to construct regional brine lines in California, and to authorize the Secretary to participate in the Lower Chino Dairy Area desalination demonstration and reclamation project. 6 pages
San Diego Water Storage and Efficiency Act of 2007: H.R. 1803, to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a feasibility study to design and construct a four reservoir intertie system for the purposes of improving the water storage opportunities, water supply reliability, and water yield of San Vicente, El Capitan, Murray, and Loveland Reservoirs in San Diego County, California in consultation and cooperation with the City of San Diego and the Sweetwater Authority. 4 pages
Madera Water Supply Enhancement Act: H.R. 1855, amended, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation to enter into a cooperative agreement with the Madera Irrigation District for purposes of supporting the Madera Water Supply Enhancement Project. 6 pages
Regulatory Improvement Act of 2007: H.R. 3564, to amend title 5, United States Code, to authorize appropriations for the Administrative Conference of the United States through fiscal year 2011. 4 pages
Energy Storage Technology Advancement Act of 2007: H.R. 3776, amended, to provide for a research, development, and demonstration program by the Secretary of Energy to support the ability of the United States to remain globally competitive in energy storage systems for vehicles, stationary applications, and electricity transmission and distribution. 9 pages
Industrial Energy Efficiency Research and Development Act of 2007: H.R. 3775, amended, to D1397support research and development of new industrial processes and technologies that optimize energy efficiency and environmental performance, utilize diverse sources of energy, and increase economic competitiveness. 7 pages
Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007: H.R. 1955, amended, to prevent homegrown terrorism, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 404 yeas to 6 nays, Roll No. 993. 22 pages
Secure Handling of Ammonium Nitrate Act of 2007: H.R. 1680, amended, to authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to regulate the sale of ammonium nitrate to prevent and deter the acquisition of ammonium nitrate by terrorists; 21 pages
Eliminating the exemption from State regulation for certain securities designated by national securities exchanges: H.R. 2868, amended, to eliminate the exemption from State regulation for certain securities designated by national securities exchanges 4 pages
Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act: Concur in Senate amendment to H.R. 327, to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 417 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 987--clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages
Charlie Norwood Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Designation Act: H.R. 1808, to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia, as the ``Charlie Norwood Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 417 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 988. 5 pages
Milo C. Huempfner Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic Designation Act: H.R. 2408, to designate the Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as the ``Milo C. Huempfner Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic''. 2 pages
Third Higher Education Extension Act of 2007: H.R. 3927, to temporarily extend the programs under the Higher Education Act of 1965. 2 pages
Virginia Ridge and Valley Act of 2007: The House passed H.R. 1011, to designate additional National Forest System lands in the State of Virginia as wilderness or a wilderness study area, to designate the Kimberling Creek Potential Wilderness Area for eventual incorporation in the Kimberling Creek Wilderness, to establish the Seng Mountain and Bear Creek Scenic Areas, and to provide for the development of trail plans for the wilderness areas and scenic areas, by voice vote. 18 pages
Amending the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996 to extend the authorization for certain national heritage areas: The House passed H.R. 1483, to amend the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996 to extend the authorization for certain national heritage areas, by a recorded vote of 291 ayes to 122 noes, Roll No. 996. 130 pages
Amending title XXI of the Social Security Act to extend and improve the Children's Health Insurance Program: The House passed H.R. 3963, to amend title XXI of the Social Security Act to extend and improve the Children's Health Insurance Program, by a yea-and-nay vote of 265 yeas to 142 nays, Roll No. 1009. 294 pages
SENATE 3 bills 314 pages
Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Act: By 75 yeas to 19 nays (Vote No. 391),
Senate passed H.R. 3043, making appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008. 303 pages
District of Columbia Disabled Veterans Memorial: Senate passed H.R. 995, to amend Public Law 106-348 to extend the authorization for establishing a memorial in the District of Columbia or its environs to honor veterans who became disabled while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States, clearing the measure for the President. 1 page
Internet Tax Freedom Act Amendments Act: Senate passed H.R. 3678, to amend the Internet Tax Freedom Act to extend the moratorium on certain taxes relating to the Internet and to electronic commerce. 10 pages