Stop Hiding the Stimulus Bill


While the House and Senate conferees have agreed on what the stimulus bill will look like in final form, the public may very well have to wait for President Obama to sign it to get a chance to read it. The House rules require that all conference reports (which is how the bill will be reported to the floor) be made publicly available for 48 hours before consideration. Yesterday, the House Rules Committee waived that requirement to allow the House leadership to bring the bill to floor immediately. And we still have not seen the bill, and “we” includes many, many members of Congress.

Elana Schor at TPMDC explains that reporters and congressmen are being denied access to the text of the bill:

Who was excluded from the process? Everyone outside the private negotiating table, regardless of their party. One senior Democratic senator, when I asked him at 6pm last night whether one of his proposals was retained in the final stimulus, replied without blinking that no one knew what was in it yet. This was hours after Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had announced the “deal” before TV cameras.

Reporters who asked for a summary of the agreed-upon deal last night were told to wait, because “policy staff … are drafting final bill language tonight,” according to a House Democratic memo. Aside from a top-line number of $789 billion and a battle over school construction, the nitty-gritty details of the stimulus were publicly unavailable.

The House expects to vote on the stimulus bill today! Well, expected is now the more appropriate word. According to CongressDaily Breaking News, House Republicans just claimed on the floor that they have not been allowed to see the bill, to which some Democrats replied that they don’t need to see the bill since the Republicans will vote against it anyway. The Speaker postponed consideration of the bill after this outburst.

But it is not just Republicans who are being denied access to the bill. Reporters, bloggers, and the general public are being denied an opportunity to review one of the most important pieces of legislation sent through Congress in a long time. Anyone who wants should express that, whatever the partisan reasons for denying access to the bill, the American people deserve a right to review this legislation. Slamming it through without letting anyone see, save for 7 or 8 congressmen and some staff, is not fair to the public or the legislative process.

This is a dangerous practice that the Democrats ran against in 2006 and now, in the majority, are unfortunately using to block their opposition’s attacks.  The majority Democrats should maintain their previous position on running the most open and honest government by allowing the public to review this legislation. Anything less is unacceptable.

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  • I haven’t had a chance to verify this article to see how accurate it is. It seems to bias a little to the right. I need to learn more about the Sunshine Foundation. As far as I know this foundation could have been created by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter or for that matter Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow.

    The really sad part of this article is the bloggers that have no respect for anyone including themselves. People making hateful statements like this;

    “Once again I am reminded why I will not vote Democrat Reid, Pelosi, Schumer are all are lower than a rat.”

    People who call others rats are fixated and jealous of rats. The person that wrote this sentence is no better than the worst people they point out. Then this self proclaimed genius tries to be a poet and said;

    “Porkulus maximus is their twisted game of the day. Next time let’s vote for them to go away!”

    We have already voted them away, now you have to give the new guys a chance. I gave Bush one chance after another and he kept on screwing up. If I was patient with Bush for eight years you owe it to the country to give Obama more than a month. Obama has already admitted he made a mistake and apologized for it. President Bush made so many mistakes it was ridiculous and I never remember him admitting that he made a mistake. Maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt and realize he made so many mistakes he didn’t have time apologize.

    Before you go blaming the Democrats for any of your woes you should think back when your party was causing the woes. Obama is just trying to clean up the mess that George Bush left behind. You people need to get real.

  • Maurice Johnson

    Thank you.I hope this will be shown to the people that spend thousands of dollars on gas everyday and need a freeze on the GAS PRICES.This would ease the money they pay at the pumps and Fact:”They are not going to stop making gas engines,the Hybrids,Electric cars,Flexfuel is only additions.

  • Maurice Johnson

    It’s nothing new that change is not coming to the Aid of the people when it comes to the Gas at the Pumps. The price per Barrel is coming down and price at the pumps is going up again. Speak around it,ignore today, speak of 5 yrs. down the RD.but don’t change today. Stimulus?

  • CR

    Where are the whiners of “openness” that we so lamentably listened to during the previous eight years?

    Do none of these same people who wanted to know about the Bush administration secrets not also want to know about Obama’s economic secrets?

    It’s like I say repeatedly-liberals accuse and whine unless they are the ones doing the dirty deeds.


    It is a scary thing to think that Obama’s agenda will shape the future of America.

  • Haha… we’re americans… democrats or republicans… who says that we’re honest.

  • Not MilothePoet

    MilothePoet’s comments rhyme
    On his hands, it seems, there’s too much time
    Perhaps he thinks there’s truth in verse
    Truth is: his politics are bad, and his poetry worse.

  • Once again I am reminded why I will not vote Democrat
    Reid, Pelosi, Schumer are all are lower than a rat
    They have lied again about truth and full disclosure
    They ask Congress to vote on this bill with no exposure
    Blindly go where no man has gone before
    Spend a trillion on what they crafted behind the closed door
    Porkulus maximus is their twisted game of the day
    Next time let’s vote for them to go away!

  • We need a Mr. Smith in Washington. Heck, we need a whole bunch!! Isn’t this a small example of taxation without representation? Of course not directly, but in the long run…..?


    more social programs, and a totally disregard for the tax payer’s money, spend, spend, spend, that is want I always do when I want to buy something I do not have money for, I do not have money in the bank but I still have checks, and since our government can print more money let’s go for it. The constitution and the bill of rights for law abiding and responsible people has been destroyed by this so called stimulus bill. It is just a get what I can get bill for special interests. Our USA is no more, President Obama is going to destroy this nation from within, with the help of we the people.

  • Deagle

    According to Yahoo news today, the “tax cut” for this so-called stimulus bill will only be a measly $13 extra per each person’s paycheck. Hardly enough to stimulate a recession/depression economy. I had faith that indeed “change has come to America” but alas, it’s business as usual in Washington…they care nothing about the financial concerns of working class Americans.

  • Thanks to CATO for the timely alert!

    POTUS -“Most ethical administration in history”

    SoH – “I didn’t come here to be partisan, I didn’t come here to be bipartisan,”

    Schumer -“The American people really don’t care”

    So, if everything is to be disinfected by sunlight; if there is no partisan agenda; and if we wouldn’t care if there were untoward elements which might be uncovered by rigorous review, then why not release it?

    Naturally a rhetorical question.

  • This is so Shock Doctrine-ish. We (by which I mean or representatives) should be better than this.

  • Philllip Gresham

    From the little bit that I have seen of the bill’s contents, some of it appears to be scary, or of tenuous value at best. Why such secrecy? What are they afraid of?

    Maybe we should have all of Congress state under oath that they have read the bill before they vote on it.