The Sunlight Foundation has long advocated that all legislation be posted online for at least 72 hours before final consideration. We believe that the consideration of the Stimulus Bill should not be an exception. While there is currently no formal requirement to do so, the House and Senate should each ensure that lawmakers and citizens alike have at least 72 hours of online access to the Stimulus Bill before its final consideration.
Further, because the scope and public import of this legislation demand a measured and transparent process we strongly urge President Obama to post the enrolled version of the bill on WhiteHouse.gov for five days before signing it, in accordance with his campaign promise. While access and feedback from the public after final passage is not as effective as providing online availability of legislation before final passage, it would still give the public an opportunity to make their views known to the president.
It is impossible for lawmakers to read, much less fully evaluate, any complex legislation that is hundreds of pages long in the few short hours they often have between the time they first see a bill until final consideration. Worse, citizens may not have access to legislation until after it has been voted on, too late for them to have a meaningful response to legislation that may directly affect their lives.
Online access to legislation for at least 72 hours before consideration should be universally adopted by both chambers of Congress. Legislation of such magnitude needs the scrutiny of both legislators and American citizens.
UPDATE: Please join us in telling President Obama to post the final Stimulus Bill on WhiteHouse.gov for five days before he signs it. (It looks like Congress will ignore our call to post it online before their consideration.) Go to the White House’s contact form to urge President Obama to post the final bill as approved by the House and Senate on WhiteHouse.gov. Please do it today, as this bill is moving very quickly.