Earlier today, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer stated that, prior to consideration, the economic stimulus bill would be made available online for 4 days. This is clearly a lesson learned from the outrage that surrounded the cramming-down-the-throat strategy for the TARP bailout bill. Here’s Hoyer (the text was received from my colleague John Wonderlich via the Open House Project Google Group):
[I]t is my hope that the committee markups will be completed tonight. maybe early this morning. as you know the appropriations committee marked up yesterday. had a full markup. adopted six republican amendments and a number of democratic amendments. i don’t know whether — i don’t know what the amendment status is in energy and commerce or ways and means, but i expect all those markups to be completed either late tonight. i hope, it is my hope that once those markups are complete that by tomorrow night we will post the results on the web and that they will be available not 48 hours, but either tonight or saturday — friday night or saturday, so that we’ll have four days to review those items. i want to reiterate my hope and my expectation to state it even more strongly that you and the minority members, country, majority members will have 48 hours to review the product that is reported out of the committee after their markups. i yield back.
This is a great step for Congress, however they should mandate that bills are available online for at least 72 hours prior to consideration.
President Obama has promised to post all non-emergency legislation on WhiteHouse.gov for five days for the public to comment. Unfortunately, this would occur after the bill is unable to be modified, thus the comments could only lead the President to sign or veto the bill. Congress should allow for each bill to be placed online for 72 hours so that the public can have a voice, and lawmakers can read the bills. Hoyer is pointing in the right direction and hopefully this is one that they will continue to follow.