Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are promising "transparency and open government." They want the people to believe that things will be different and that they'll provide greater accountability.
Sorry, we don't believe it.
* We expect big unread bills.
* We anticipate just as much logrolling.
* We think there will be several "last minute surprises."
BUT WE'D LOVE TO BE PROVEN WRONG.
In September, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, snuck a ban on money transfers to online gaming sites into an unrelated Port Security bill. Chances are, few Senators knew it until too late. The Port bill was large. The provisions added were small. Big unread bills are a real problem. But the Democrats can make things right -- both now and for the future. They can repeal the online gaming ban.
They can introduce the Read the Bills Act.
Will they do either?
We ask the Democrats to remember how it felt when they were in the minority and they had the Real ID Act inserted into a bill funding the troops in Iraq. They rightly opposed this new national ID card then, but voted to fund the troops. It was a difficult situation. Now, they should make things right both now and for the future. Repeal the Real ID Act.
Introduce the Read the Bills Act.
Will they do either?
If the Democrats are serious about changing the environment and bringing back accountability, then they should repeal the most heinous bill passed this year -- the bill that permitted special tribunals, eliminated habeas corpus, and even permitted torture. This is un-American. "Truth must count. Innocence must matter."
We've read that bill. It looks like it was written on the back of an envelope a couple hours before the vote. It's a confusing mess. The public should have seven days to review a bill like this -- it should be posted online -- BEFORE Congress votes on it. In this instance, Congress sure needed an editor with a big red pen. The Read the Bills Act requires a seven day waiting period before the vote. And for those seven days the bill must be posted on the Internet so the public can review it as well. If the Democrats were serious about accountability, then they would bring the Read the Bills Act to the floor for a vote.
Will they do either?
I want to encourage you to challenge them. That's today's action item.
Call their bluff.
Demand the repeal of the online gaming ban, the Real ID Act,
and the torture/tribunal bill
And then, tell the Democrats to put up or shut up: make the Read the Bills Act a prominent part of their agenda.
Tell them to sponsor it and bring it up for a vote.
* Ask them to remember what it was like to be in the minority and remind them that someday they will likely return. Nothing lasts forever.
* Let them know that this bill favors democracy -- civic involvement -- and that it has broad transpartisan support.
* Tell them DownsizeDC.org President Jim Babka is sitting by his phone waiting for their call.
And if your member is a Republican, then remind him or her that they will soon experience what it's like to be in the minority but they still have time to pass this bill before spending two years on the outside of the decision-making process.
Now, here's what we think will happen in the new Congress. Regulations on campaigns and grassroots lobbying will be introduced instead. Congress indulges in pork-barrel spending, vote-swapping, and influence peddling; they limit their challengers. Congress misbehaves and plunders; they regulate you and me. Heck, anyone misbehaves, they regulate you.
Will the Democrats be any different than what we've had the last few years? They can prove they will be by sponsoring the Read the Bills Act
and bringing it to the floor for a vote.
Do the Republicans want their seats back? They can make a HUGE downpayment on credibility and prove their mea culpa by sponsoring the Read the Bills Act
and bringing it to the floor for a vote before this lame-duck session is over.
Our challenge: Talk is cheap. Further regulating the people is wrong. Congress, regulate yourselves. Show you mean business. Repeal...
* the online gaming ban,
* the Real ID Act,
* the torture/tribunal bill
Then, bring the Read the Bills Act
to the floor for a vote.
Accountability? We're waiting!
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