April 11, 2008
Truth or Satire?
By James Wilson
Today's Downsizer-Dispatch . . . Quote of the Day:

"Join Downsize DC, that marvelous organization building a non-partisan army to force our representatives, regardless of party, to actually represent us."

- Dann McCreary, Truth Realm

Subject: Truth or Satire?

Did Congress ban wireless internet networks last week?

According to John C. Dvorak of PC Magazine, it did. He goes into detail in his article, Onerous New Law to Phase Out Wi-Fi:

  • The bill, with the pretentious title Telecommunications Restructuring Act, passed with little or no debate.
  • The bill was bipartisan. Co-sponsors were from both parties.
  • The beneficiaries of the bill are large telecoms, who can afford to purchase the currently free, unlicensed spectrum, which will be auctioned off.
  • There is a "phase-out" transition period, which is why the bill slipped under the radar of major media and activist groups.
  • Harsh penalties are imposed, and the bill would apply not just to network users, but ham radio operators and microwave oven users. It is unclear whether this was intentional.
  • The bill was debated on CNBC, where one of the bill's sponsors clearly didn't know what he was talking about.
  • Only two members of Congress, Ron Paul and Ted Kennedy, opposed the bill.
  • Presidential candidates Obama, Clinton, and McCain didn't have the guts to show up to vote.
The good news is, it was an April Fool's joke. There were hints throughout the article. The bill numbers weren't in the proper format, and the procedures for passing the bill were unusual. But the article had all the hallmarks of a good April Fool's joke. A headline like "Scientists Declare Moon is Made of Green Cheese" is too stupid to be believed, but any story about how Congress will wreck or complicate our lives is all-too believable.

That's because members of Congress don't read or debate most of the bills they pass. For instance, last week the House passed 15 bills, but only two were actually debated. Congress also doesn't give the people a chance to provide their opinions before bills come to their final vote. Thousands of bills are introduced in Congress each year, and referred to a committee. Even activist organizations such as can't keep track of every bill that moves out of committee for a vote.

But if bills, including amendments, were placed on a calendar and posted on the Internet for seven days before passage, the public would be able to object and pressure Congress when a bill spends too much, infringes on our liberties, or sacrifices our interests for those of Big Business. This is why wrote the Read the Bills Act (RTBA).

The RTBA requires each member of Congress who plans to vote yes on a bill to have read it, or heard it read, before voting for it. It also requires that . . .

  •  All bills must be published on the Internet at least 7 days before a vote
  • Congress must give public notice of the date when a vote will be held on that bill
  • Congress will not be able to waive these provisions

The Read the Bills Act requires sponsors in both the House and Senate. Please tell your own Rep. and Senators to introduce the RTBA. You can even refer to the April Fool's article above and tell them Congress wouldn't be the target of that kind of satire if the RTBA was passed. You can do so here.

We also invite you to join the Read the Bills Act Coalition. By joining the Coalition, visitors of your website will be just one click away from learning about the RTBA. We will, in turn, add you to our roll at the Downsize DC blog and mention your site in a Downsizer-Dispatch, reaching 22,000 subscribers. Click here for details.

And to place an RTBA Coalition button, banner, or web-ad to your site, click here.

Last week, the Senate passed on 40-page bill and the House passed 15 bills totaling 227 pages. You can learn about the bills below my signature.

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 1 bill, 40 pages Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act: Senate passed S. 980, to amend the Controlled Substances Act to address online pharmacies, after agreeing to the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute. 40 pages HOUSE 15 bills, 227 pages Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Boundary Modification and Protection Act: H.R. 1187, amended, to expand the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary; 16 pages National Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation Act of 2007: H.R. 2342, amended, to direct the President to establish a National Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System; 20 pages Captive Wildlife Safety Technical Amendments Act of 2008: H.R. 4933, amended, to amend the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to protect captive wildlife and to make technical corrections; 6 pages Hydrographic Services Improvement Act Amendments of 2007: H.R. 3352, amended, to reauthorize and amend the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 308 yeas to 60 nays, Roll No. 147; 7 pages Amending the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act to increase the number of Directors on the Board of Directors of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: H.R. 3891, amended, to amend the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Establishment Act to increase the number of Directors on the Board of Directors of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; 2 pages HALE Scouts Act: H.R. 2675, amended, to provide for the conveyance of approximately 140 acres of land in the Ouachita National Forest in Oklahoma to the Indian Nations Council, Inc., of the Boy Scouts of America, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 370 yeas to 2 nays, Roll No. 148; 4 pages Utah National Guard Readiness Act: H.R. 3651, amended, to require the conveyance of certain public land within the boundaries of Camp Williams, Utah, to support the training and readiness of the Utah National Guard; 3 pages Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program Act: H.R. 2515, amended, to authorize appropriations for the Bureau of Reclamation to carry out the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program in the States of Arizona, California, and Nevada; 3 pages Preserving existing judgeships on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia: S. 550, to preserve existing judgeships on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia--clearing the measure for the President; 1 page Civil Rights Act of 1964 Commemorative Coin Act: H.R. 2040, amended, to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the semicentennial of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 9 pages Cody Grater Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 5168, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 19101 Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville, Florida, as the ``Cody Grater Post Office Building''; 2 pages Amending title 11, District of Columbia Official Code, to implement the increase provided under the District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 2008, in the amount of funds made available for the compensation of attorneys representing indigent defendants in the District of Columbia courts: H.R. 5551, to amend title 11, District of Columbia Official Code, to implement the increase provided under the District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 2008, in the amount of funds made available for the compensation of attorneys representing indigent defendants in the District of Columbia courts; 3 pages Arts Require Timely Service (ARTS) Act: H.R. 1312, amended, to expedite adjudication of employer petitions for aliens of extraordinary artistic ability; 3 pages Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008: The House passed H.R. 5501, to authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 to provide assistance to foreign countries to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, by a recorded vote of 308 ayes to 116 noes, Roll No. 158. 132 pages United States Fire Administration Reauthorization Act of 2008: The House passed H.R. 4847, to reauthorize the United States Fire Administration, by a yea-and-nay vote of 412 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 160. 16 pages
Filed under Downsizer Dispatch, RTBA
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