Research Rushed Bills at Open Congress & ReadtheBill.org

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Speaking of Open Congress’ spiffy new features, check out this new “rushed bills” option mirrored at our own Read the Bill website. This feed shows you which bills in the current Congress may have been hurried through the legislative process, with less than 72 hours between when the bill is publicly available and when Congress begins debating it.

Here’s how it works. Open Congress starts the clock for this continually updating feed as soon as the bill was posted on the Web site of the General Printing Office (GPO), the agency charged with providing information about government to the public. For the ending time, it uses the time at which the bill was first “considered” as provided by the Web site of the Library of Congress

It’s not a perfect system. Open Congress may miss bills where Congress changes a bill’s language so dramatically from the time it is posted on the GPO site that it is unrecognizable. We will try to capture those bills manually (See case studies.) The Open Congress feed may also capture bills that have been available online elsewhere. But this timeframe reflects the amount of time the public has had to productively contribute input and feedback during the legislative process.

It’s a great place to dig in and do your own research about examples where lawmakers should #ReadtheBill. You can research the meandering travels of a particular bill by searching for more information on Open Congress. (Sorry, relying on your knowledge of procedure from “I’m just a Bill on Capitol Hill” won’t necessarily help you here–it’s usually a lot more complicated.)  Look at video from the Congressional Record to see what lawmakers are saying during debates on the legislation. Check out related news stories. If you find anything interesting, send it along by commenting on this post.  And remember to sign our petition at ReadtheBill.org to ask Congress to change its rules to require that non-emergency legislation and conference reports be posted on the Internet for 72 hours before debate begins.

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