72 Hours is Now, Again

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The Senate’s version of the health care bill was published on Wednesday, along with its CBO score.

Since the first preliminary procedural vote isn’t expected until Saturday evening, it looks likely that the Senate’s bill will see 72 hours in public, online, before its first vote.

Senators, their staff, and the public will all have a chance to digest this legislation before its formal floor consideration.

While the ReadtheBill.org effort has focused primarily on the House, the same banner was taken up in the Senate in early October, when Senators Lincoln, Bayh, Landrieu, Lieberman, McCaskill, Nelson, Pryor, and Webb wrote Majority Leader Reid, requesting 72 hours before an initial vote:

Every step of the process needs to be transparent, and information regarding the bill needs to be readily available to our constituents before the Senate starts to vote on legislation that will affect the lives of every American. The legislative text and complete budget scores from the Congressional Budget Office (C.B.O.) of the health care legislation considered on the Senate floor should be made available on a Web site the public can access for at least 72 hours prior to the first vote to proceed to the legislation.

By posting these materials online, Majority Leader Reid is strengthening and legitimizing the floor debate on the bill, and probably defending against some process criticism.  He’ll also be raising the bar, showing that public scrutiny of legislation online should be a welcome component of Congress’s work.

As I suggested after Speaker Pelosi’s commitment and delivery on their 72 hour promise, if they can do it for health care — the toughest and most contentious of contexts — they can do it for every bill.

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  • Thanks Sandra — after looking into it further, our best approximation of when the PDF went online of the CBO score was 11:07 PM on Wednesday the 18th.

    The bill itself was around 7:45 PM the same day.

    That means that according to current reports, the bill will have been online for a little over 72 hours, and the CBO score for about 69 hours, if the first vote is at 8 PM on Saturday.

  • Sandra

    As far as I know, the CBO score wasn’t posted until 11pm on Wednesday, so if they want to live up to the request in the letter, they should not be voting on this until after 11pm on Saturday. 72 hours is 72 hours.