July 8, 2010
Read the Bills Act: Follow the President's Example
By James Wilson

President Obama is starting to do something Congress refuses to do. He is posting bills on-line for five days before signing them.

But this is just a token gesture. If you want real "change," Congress must be more transparent in how it writes and signs bills before they pass. This is why we ask you to tell your representatives to pass the Read the Bills Act.

You can borrow from or copy this sample letter . . .

President Obama is finally beginning to implement his promise to post all bills for five days before he signs them.

I applaud this news. But it has only symbolic value. By the time the bill reaches the President's desk, the die is cast. The bill has passed, and the President will sign the bill or veto as he chooses.

YOU are my representative.

What we need is legislative transparency BEFORE bills pass Congress. A member of the House or Senate should have read the bill before he or she votes for it. Reading the bill is the BARE MINIMUM for understanding the intentions and ramifications of the bill.

Reading the bills shouldn't be difficult for you . . .

* Clerks can read up to 40 pages per hour
* If you have a copy to follow along with, you can highlight any word, clause, or provision that you don't understand or disagree with
* You could address your concerns in debate

Yet, I'm NOT represented now, when . . . 

* Congress passes thousand-page bills you haven't read
* I can't read the bill, personally, and then give you my input

The Read the Bills Act would . . .

* encourage bills to be shorter and easier to read
* give "we the people" time to read the bill and give you our feedback

Follow the President's example, and do even more! Post all bills online for SEVEN days BEFORE they come to a final vote. And do not vote to pass a bill you haven't read.

Now is the time that you start representing me. Introduce the Read the Bills Act.

Introducing and supporting this bill cannot hurt your political career, because it's a common-sense measure with which almost everyone agrees. In the long run, refusing to support the Read the Bills Act will only HURT you.


You can send your letter through's Educate the Powerful System.

We also urge you to add your blog or website to the Read the Bills Act Coalition. Membership means . . .

* your site will be listed in the RTBA coalition roster on our blog
* your site will be mentioned in a Downsizer-Dispatch like this, reaching over 29,800 readers
* you will help to promote RTBA

Find out more and join!

Finally, in May the House passed 3 bills totaling 2,629 pages, and the Senate passed 13 bills amounting to 482 pages. You can learn more about these bills in our monthly Congressional report.

Thanks for helping to Downsize DC!

James Wilson
Assistant Communications Director

Filed under Downsizer Dispatch, RTBA
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