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New 72 Hour Rule Bill Introduced

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On Friday, Rep. Peters introduced a new bill, (H. Res. 230), to carry the Read the Bill mantle.

The bill would require all legislation that hasn't been reported out of committee to be posted online for at least 72 hours.

The measure, also cosponsored by Reps Quigley and Polis, comes on the heels of the new House Rules for the 112th Congress, which require three calendar days for legislation. This rules change (from this January) was a significant improvement over what came before, even if there are many avenues for evading a full, 72 hour public airing of legislation.

The biggest loophole in the existing rules, it turns out, is that three calendar days can mean as little as 24 hours and change, as long as the bill is online during part of three different working days. Several bills this Congress have been passed without 72 hours online, including the NPR defunding vote, and one of the Continuing Resolution bills from House Republicans.

These votes were particularly surprising, since Speaker Boehner was a big proponent of the 72 hour standard for all House bills, as we've pointed out before.

Rep. Peters' bill would raise the standard for House bills from 3 days to 72 hours, and give lawmakers and the public the minimum they need to see what is in bills that are being considered.

House leaders have clearly recognized that the public expects bills to be online before votes, and have improved the way bills are shared online, but we shouldn't rely on the Speakers' prerogatives in order to guarantee a reasonable amount of time for public consideration of bills in the people's House.

H. Res 230 is short enough to read in a minute or two. The full text is below:

HRES 230 IH 112th CONGRESS 1st Session H. RES. 230 Amending the Rules of the House of Representatives to provide that the House may not consider any reported bill until at least 72 hours after it is reported. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES April 15, 2011 Mr. PETERS (for himself, Mr. QUIGLEY, and Mr. POLIS) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Rules RESOLUTION Amending the Rules of the House of Representatives to provide that the House may not consider any reported bill until at least 72 hours after it is reported. Resolved, That clause 11 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives is amended to read as follows: `11. It shall not be in order to consider a bill or joint resolution that has not been reported by a committee until such measure has been available to Members, Delegates, and the Resident Commissioner for 72 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, or legal holidays except when the House is in session on such a day) in which such measure has been available to Members, Delegates, and the Resident Commissioner.'.