September 20, 2007
Cal Ripken Way
By James Wilson
Today's Downsizer-Dispatch . . . Congress passed relatively few bills last week, as each chamber took a couple of days off.  [The bills are listed at the bottom of this message, below my signature] Most of the bills named a piece of federal property after a particular individual. For instance, one bill designated a portion of Interstate Route 395 "Cal Ripken Way." Congress passes hundreds of bills like that every year. In their final, printed form, these bills are usually one page each.

We like one-page bills. They are the next best thing to no bills at all. They are short and to the point. But there's something odd about this process.   

You see, the Senate also passed H.R. 3074, a 164-page bill funding Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and "related" agencies, costing taxpayers many tens of billions of dollars. If it takes a separate bill every time Congress wants to name a stretch of road or a post office after somebody, shouldn't Congress also have a separate bill to fund each federal department and agency?

When Congress passes a large, multi-subject funding bill, we know that most members probably didn't like many parts of the bill, yet felt obliged to vote for it in order to keep "essential" services running. We also know that the larger the bill, the less likely it was actually read before Congress passed it. This means the taxpayers were not represented. This means they were cheated. That is why we need the Read the Bills Act.

Under the Read the Bills Act, each bill must be read in its entirety before a quorum in both the House and the Senate. This will force Congress to write shorter bills, which means they will stop combining unrelated subjects into the same bill. Unpopular provisions couldn't be secretly inserted into otherwise popular and necessary legislation. Moreover, each bill will be posted on the Internet for seven days before being voted on, so there will be time for Congress to receive feedback from the people.

Tell Congress you don't want mammoth funding bills passed all at once. Tell them it is our money they are spending, and that funding for each department and agency should be considered separately, unlike H.R. 3074. Also, tell Congress we want the Read the Bills Act. You can do so here.

We also invite you to add your website or blog to the Read the Bills Act Coalition. This helps us spread the word about the RTBA, and we will post your link on our blog. To learn more about the Coalition, click here.

This week we welcome three new members to the Read the Bills Act Coalition




Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.


James Wilson
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.
SENATE Percy Sutton Post Office Building: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs was discharged from further consideration of H.R. 954, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 365 West 125th Street in New York, New York, as the ``Percy Sutton Post Office Building'', and the bill was then passed, clearing the measure for the President. - 1 page Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008: Senate passed H.R. 3074, making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, after taking action on the following amendments proposed thereto:, clearing the measure for the President. - 291 pages Cal Ripken Way: Senate passed H.R. 3218, to designate a portion of Interstate Route 395 located in Baltimore, Maryland, as ``Cal Ripken Way'', clearing the measure for the President. - 1 page Korean War Veterans Association: Senate passed S. 1692, to grant a Federal charter to Korean War Veterans Association, Incorporated. - 8 pages HOUSE Frank J. Guarini Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 2467, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 69 Montgomery Street in Jersey City, New Jersey, as the ``Frank J. Guarini Post Office Building'' - 1 page Kenneth T. Whalum, Sr. Post Office Designation Act: H.R. 2587, amended, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 555 South 3rd Street Lobby in Memphis, Tennessee, as the ``Kenneth T. Whalum, Sr. Post Office'' - 1 page Eleanor McGovern Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 2654, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 202 South Dumont Avenue in Woonsocket, South Dakota, as the ``Eleanor McGovern Post Office Building'' - 1 page Robert Merrill Postal Station Designation Act: H.R. 2778, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3 Quaker Ridge Road in New Rochelle, New York, as the ``Robert Merrill Postal Station''- 1 page Owen Lovejoy Princeton Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 2825, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 326 South Main Street in Princeton, Illinois, as the ``Owen Lovejoy Princeton Post Office Building'' - 1 page
Filed under Downsizer Dispatch, RTBA
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