Ron Paul: Congress Should Read Bills Before Voting on Them

Is Congress just a decadent caricature of its former self, timidly executing the secret orders of the hidden elite? Sometimes it appears that way, especially when congressmen and women obediently vote on a bill without reading it and without having had the opportunity to do so, as it was made available just hours before. Ron Paul attacks these practices in his latest column. His bill HR 216 would prohibit any piece of legislation from being brought before the House of Representatives unless it has been available to be read for at least 10 days.

We Need Sunlight to Disinfect the Legislative Process!

by Ron Paul

During August recess, many legislators have heard an unexpected amount of discontent from their constituents about what is happening on Capitol Hill, particularly regarding healthcare. Some people are justifiably terrified at what the government could do to healthcare, should it get its claws even further into it. Others demand a public option for health insurance and are adamant that healthcare be treated as yet other absolute entitlement. One thing everyone agrees on is that the final bill needs to be read and understood by all legislators before a vote is taken. To any American, this is common sense. In Washington, that is unlikely to happen.

There is much confusion and debate over what is and is not in the reform plan being considered. Are there or are there not so-called death panels? What are the end-of-life consultations really for? How will private insurance be affected? Can you keep your current plan or will you eventually be forced into a government plan? Will it pay for elective abortions or not? What are the implications for medical privacy? The truth is no one knows what will be in the final bill until it is on the House floor, and provisions could be added in and taken out in the wee hours of the morning before.

In February, the House was forced to vote on an over 1,000 page “stimulus” bill that had first been posted on the internet just after midnight the morning of the vote. It passed. Then in June, House leaders rushed a vote on the cap-and-trade bill, even though an over 300 page “manager’s amendment” making substantive changes to the bill, was introduced shortly after 3:00 a.m. the morning of the vote.

Washington thrives on crisis. If enough people can be convinced that we are in an emergency, they will more likely tolerate rushing legislation to the floor like this. Last minute changes will be slipped in, benefitting who knows what special interests and at what expense to the taxpayer. But the mantra is repeated over and over: We are in a crisis. We must act immediately.

It should be unconscionable for legislators to vote in favor of legislation they have not had the opportunity to read. This is why I have re-introduced the Sunlight Rule, H.Res 216. The Sunlight Rule prohibits any piece of legislation from being brought before the House of Representatives unless it has been available to read for at least 10 days.

The Sunlight Rule allows citizens to move for censure of any House Member who votes for a bill in violation of this act. Because the Sunlight Rule could never be waived, any Member could raise a point of order requiring any bill in violation to be immediately pulled from the House calendar until it can be brought to the floor in a manner consistent with this rule. This rule does not require that Members read the bills. It merely guarantees the opportunity to do so. It has 4 cosponsors.

Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” The Sunlight Rule would do much towards negating the cycle of pseudo-crises and cleaning up the legislative process here in Washington. I sincerely hope this is the year Congress remembers its deliberative duties and passes it.


  • Dolores Y

    Before and after the election, Obama has made some astounding remarks. We need to follow up.

    And here are questions we NEED TO DEMAND, be answered by the White House and all those who serve them.

    – Why do we need a civilian force?

    – Who is posing a threat to us?

    – Who will this “force” be made up of?

    – Who is the real enemy?

    – Does the president know of a coming event? If not, who builds an army against an unrecognized enemy?

    – Why won’t the media get off their butts and look into these radicals in the White House? And into this civilian army?

    – Why does the FCC have a diversity “czar”?

    – Who is Mark Lloyd and how does he plan to “balance” the airwaves?

    – Will he bring back the Fairness Doctrine or worse?

    – Cass Sunstein once said he wants to balance the Internet; is that next?

    – Will broadcasters who leave the airwaves be allowed to go to satellite or Internet without government regulation?

    – Is there any place (that has a mass audience) where the government wont regulate free speech?

    – Why does it seem every member of the Obama advisory team hates capitalism, unless those companies (like G.E.) are in bed with the administration?

    If Lloyd has his way, stations who don’t comply to the governments definition of the “public interest” will have to pay a massive fine — that helps support public broadcasting:

    – What will be the definition of “public interest”?

    – Who defines “public interest”?

    – Why should it be balanced? Because it’s public airwaves? (Well, there are public roads that go by my house and I don’t count how many Republicans and Democrats are driving on them)

    – Who is “surrounding” the President in the White House?

    – Do any of the President’s advisers have criminal records?

    – Are the President’s advisers working to better the country or their own ideals?

    – Who are the anti-capitalists in Washington?

    – What roles do they have in crafting bills?

    – What was “STORM”? What happened to the founders, where are they now?

    – What qualifications must one have to be a Presidential adviser?

    – What is the difference between a community organizer and a community activist?

    – Do the czars have power?

    – Should a communist have the ear of the President of the United States?

    – What role did the Apollo Alliance play in crafting bills?

    – Does the President know the co-founder of the Weather Underground is a board member of the Apollo Alliance?

    – How many people in the administration are connected to the movement for a democratic society?

    – What role does George Soros play… CONSTITUTIONALLY?

    – Our unfunded liability for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is close to $100 trillion. Is there any way to pay for these programs without bankrupting America?

    – We are in so much debt, why spend more borrowed money on cap-and-trade and healthcare programs before we stop the flow of red-ink?

    – The stimulus package funneled billions of dollars to ACORN. How does giving billions of dollars to ACORN stimulate the economy?

    – If it was so important for congress to pass the stimulus bill before they even had time to read it why has only a fraction of the stimulus money been spent 6 months later?

    – Bush said he had to abandon free market principles in order to save them, how exactly does that work?

    – Why won’t members of Congress read the bills before they vote on them?

    – Why are citizens mocked and laughed at when they ask their congressman to read the bills before they vote on them?

    – Was the cash-for-clunkers program meant to save the earth or the economy? Did it accomplish either?

    – How did Van Jones, a self-proclaimed communist become a special advisor to the president?

    – Did President Obama know of Van Jones’ radical political beliefs when he named him special advisor?

    – The Apollo Alliance claimed credit for writing the stimulus bill—why was this group allowed to write any portion of this bill?

    – If politicians aren’t writing the bills and aren’t reading the bills, do they have any idea what these 1000 page plus bills actually impose on the American people?

    – If the ‘public option’ health care plan is so good why won’t politicians agree to have that as their plan?

    – If town hall meetings are intended for the politicians to learn what’s on our mind—why do they spend so much time talking instead of listening?

    – Politicians are refusing to attend town hall meetings complaining, without evidence, that they are scripted. Does that mean we shouldn’t come out and vote for you since every campaign stop, baby kiss and speech you give is scripted?

    – Why would you want to overwhelm the system?

    – Is using the economic crises to rush legislation through congress what Rahm Emanuel meant when he talked about “not letting a crises go to waste”?

    – What are the czars paid? What is the budget for their staffs/offices?

  • VR
  • Dolores Y

    So, beside the fact they don’t write or read the bills anymore, but special interest groups are now writing our bills, ya know, the ones who are self proclaimed communist, socialist etc…


    Aren’t you curious, a little, tiny bit?

    Where is the money they so urgently needed for the so called bailouts that “the sky is falling” proclamations were heard from around the world?

    Where is the money? What are they doing with our money? What about the transparency?

    What is transparent to me is “they” are using it to restructure our country and that is NOT a good thing!

    And who, are “they?”

  • CindyR

    Has anyone read The 5000 Year Leap: Principles of Freedom 101? It seems our government has not. This book should be taught in every history class. Why doesn’t our govt. stick to the beliefs of our Founding Fathers and the Constitution?

  • mobus

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    Pretty neat. You can send a message that will last forever and forever. The first one is free. go here

  • mobus

    No kidding. It wouldn’t hurt to read the bills before voting on them.
    Maybe the congressmen and congresswomen have their lawyers do it for them. Typical elite.
    Previously I didn’t think much about Ron Paul until I read Mr.Paul’s voting record. Exceptional voting record. Mr.Paul leaves a legacy of unsurpassed abilities. Excelling all the other congress persons together.

  • Simus
    • mobus

      Simus I heard this song on the Alex Jones program. Tell me what you think of it. You know if you want you can go into KEO and write your opinions and beliefs for future generations. KEO is a satellite time capsule that will go up into space in 2010/2011 and will remain there for 50 thousand years after this it will return to earth for whatever life is left here having all your opinions and beliefs will be there, or whatever praise you have for Ron Paul. The time limit for leaving information is December of 2009 at the end of this year. here is the link.

  • mike

    On the subject of HR 1207 it just seems to me as if congress is losing power we have 282 co sponsors for this bill this and it doesn’t have to be brought to the floor at all WHAT IS THIS! Congress is really the only why the people have a input I think maybe that input should mean a little more. The last time I can remember people being in such a uproar was Bill Clinton’s no brained with gun control and look what happen to the democrats then!


  • mike

    I also think Ron should include a provision that any majority bill in congress with 282 votes should be immediately reviewed and passed HR 1207.

    Its very clear our government is out of control! How can this administration throw a 1000 page bill at congress and expect a immediate vote!

    Turn around and say you didn’t see that it was in the FINE PRINT I could do whatever I wanted with that 800 billion dollars!!!!!