Yesterday, Sen. John Cornyn introduced an amendment to the budget that would require “five days of public review of legislation before passage by the Senate.” The amendment would have required all bills, joint resolutions, or conference reports to be posted online along with any budget score provided by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The amendment failed by a 46-52 vote and fell largely along party lines.
While the amendment goes much further than Sunlight’s Read the Bill campaign is pushing–the difference between 112 hours and 72 hours in legislative time is huge–this amendment provides a good test case for how a debate over a Read the Bill fight in Congress would occur. Essentially, we have the majority protecting their perorogatives to control debate and bring bills up as they please voting against the amendment (save for Sens. Bayh, Klobuchar, Landrieu, McCaskill, and Nelson (NE)). Then there is the minority, and the above mentioned Democrats, trying to exert their own power over the control of debate.
What is most interesting here for me is how close this vote was, especially in the Senate. No one knew about this amendment and thus there was no organizing. It would have only taken a flip of five Democrats to pass this amendment, which, to me, is shocking. It is rare to see the majority give up any control over the floor and debate in either chamber of Congress. The fact that this amendment, which goes much further than the Read the Bill proposal, was only five votes from passing places an even greater importance on putting more pressure on Congress.
Please go ReadTheBill.org and sign the petition, or pass it on to your friends and have them sign it. The more signatures we have, the more pressure we can bring to Congress, and the more likely we can get a Read the Bill rule passed in Congress. If it’s already this close with no pressure, imagine what we can do when we turn up the heat.