Statement from Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation on Senator Dodd’s bonus exemption provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AARA) of 2009 permitting AIG bonuses:
“We are outraged to learn that Sen. Dodd, at the behest of the Obama administration, inserted a last-minute loophole into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that allowed AIG employees to receive exorbitant bonuses at the American taxpayers’ expense, and the vast majority of elected officials, not to mention the American public, missed the amendment because they only had 13 hours to read the bill!
But this is just the latest example of what happens when legislation is rushed through Congress. Loopholes of all kinds, inserted by many lawmakers have become the rule, not the exception. When legislation is not available for legislator or public review, special amendments like this pass by in the dark of night. Because the AARA was rushed through Congress, (this legislation was only publicly available before debate for 13 hours, see http://readthebill.org/cases/stimulus/), there was not sufficient time for lawmakers or interested citizens to understand and analyze the bill. AARA should have been online for all to review. Without question, I am confident that this exemption would have been identified and eliminated.
It is precisely to combat rushed faulty provisions like the executive compensation loophole that the Sunlight Foundation and numerous supporters of its Read the Bill campaign (http://readthebill.org/endorsements/#endorsers) urge Congress to post all bills online for 72 hours before they are debated. That gives members of Congress - and citizens - three days to read legislation and consider how it could potentially affect each of us in our daily lives. A 72-hour rule would also give Americans a chance to let their senators and representative in Congress know what you like, or don't like, about a bill before they vote.”
The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan nonprofit dedicated to using the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency. Visit SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight’s projects, including The Open Senate Project, Capitol Words and OpenCongress.