The House-Senate conference committee on financial regulatory reform legislation has begun its work with the goal of completing the bill and sending it to the President before the July 4th recess. As Chairman Dodd said, “It is our intention that this conference be done as openly as possible. Not only do we want people to know how we are proceeding, people have a right to know.” That sentiment must extend after the conference. Before Congress votes, the final financial reform bill must be online 72 hours.
Even if the conference itself is fully transparent, citizens, journalists and lawmakers should have the opportunity to examine the changes to legislation and raise questions and concerns about the bill while it can still have an impact. In 72 hours, any citizen, advocacy organization, analyst or media entity has time to review and assess the impact of the legislation, mobilize others in support or opposition, and take any action they believe appropriate.
Sunlight has long supported H. Res. 554, a bill that would mandate a 72-hour rule for all non-emergency legislation. But, even without rule-changing legislation being passed, Congress has realized the importance of giving the public 72 hours to review numerous important and controversial bills, including the health care reform bill. The public deserves the same opportunity with the financial regulation overhaul.
The public should not accept excuses from Congress as to why they cannot make the bill publicly available for 72 hours prior to a vote. The House passed its regulatory reform bill in December of 2009 while the Senate approved its bill weeks ago. Providing three more days for the public to review and digest the legislation before a final vote will not cause markets to crash, retirement funds to be depleted or banks “too big to fail” to shutter their doors.
Join us in our effort to ensure transparency of the financial reform bill online for 72. Call your Representatives in the House and Senate and ask them to demand that the financial regulatory reform bill is online for 72 hours before a final vote. And join us in the fight for more transparency by signing Public=Online pledge.