In Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" Rep. John Conyers makes a stunning admission that is actually a widely known fact in Washington. Conyers states that no member of Congress read the Patriot Act before voting for it. In fact most bills aren't read by congressmen or their staff because they aren't released in a timely fashion. Just as stunning to the public, and to many members of Congress, was the outcome of the fight over the 2003 Medicare bill. The bill was introduced moments before an all-night session, preventing legislators from being able to read the bill. The bill passed with most members having no idea of the provisions slipped into the bill and no one knowing the true final cost. More recently, liberal and conservative bloggers have raised the issue of prompt bill release over the immigration bill and free trade agreements.
Just last week, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced H. Res. 504, which would require all bills to be posted online 72 hours before
they are voted on floor debate begins. This bill would greatly alter the dynamic by which bills are considered in the House. Passage of H. Res. 504 would mean that each piece of legislation will receive greater citizen input and greater scrutiny from the media and from legislators themselves. This bill is an essential piece to changing the way business is done in Washington and changing the dynamic between citizens and their representatives. Last year the bill (then H. Res. 688) was cosponsored by 36 members of Congress. Check out Read the Bill's arguments for why this bill should pass.