Victory for Read The Bill: Financial Reform edition


Wordle: Dodd - Lincoln Financial Reform version

UPDATE [06/25/10 @ 12:00 pm]: I’ve created a word cloud of the merged Dodd – Lincoln language, one of the important versions of the bill on the way to the final compromise language. We’ll do a side by side word cloud once the final language is out. Also keep an eye on the Open Congress page of the bill as they will have a direct text comparison with older versions of the bill. Want even more information on financial reform? Check out the excellent FreeRisk wiki.

Need some reading materials for the weekend? Do we have a recommendation for you! The consensus version of the massive financial system reform bill will be put online starting tomorrow. This is another great victory for the Read The Bill campaign – our unrelenting effort to makes sure Congress puts all bills online for 72 hours before a vote.

read the billRepresentative Barney Frank (D-MA) says that the entire bill will be online for “at least 68 hours” (with most parts of the bill online for much longer) before it is taken up for a vote in Congress. Rep. Frank has been chairing the conference committee that reconciled the House and Senate versions of the bill.

We can’t stop here – Read The Bill is part of a larger Public=Online campaign to make sure all public data is online and in real-time. Help us make sure that putting bills online for 72 hours before a vote isn’t just the norm – it’s the law.

Some might say it’s early to claim victory on this bill. I disagree: it’s currently 4:12am on Friday so there simply won’t be a chance for this bill to be taken up over the weekend. We’re able to bring you this breaking news because we’ve been covering the conference committee since 9:45am on Thursday – and this is day seven of said committee. Hopefully you can appreciate my sanguineness. :)

Want to know how the final compromises went down? The complete archive of our coverage, including the final 19 hour marathon can be found below by replaying our live blog which you can find below the fold. If you want just the highlights you can find them in our Twitter account: @sunlightnetwork.

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  • Thanks for your comment, Terry.

    I think it’s great that you expect more from your government. I do too.

    The bill is definitely going to be put online, so there’s no “may” about it, and one good thing about the bill – even if you disagree with what’s in it – is that the debate has been happening over the last two and a half weeks on live television, and the team here has been able to watch the entire thing. So the way this bill came to be has been pretty transparent – at least on that front.

    Certainly 72 hours isn’t a lot of time to some, but throughout other debates, we have actually seen that it’s enough time for groups that care about what’s in a bill to understand it (with the aid of reporters and teams of folks in their organizations) and even mobilize action around it.

    This is a victory, because over the next three days the media can cover the bill further, you can inquire further, and you can raise issues and bring them up with your representatives as a result.

    It’s not perfect by any means, but it does mean that the door for a little better democracy is open.

  • A two thousand page bill, which *may* be put online, is a “victory” for “Read the Bill?”

    As I understand it, this bill is a convoluted mixture of compromises and cross-references, written in the most arcane language possible. Who on earth is going to read it? How does it track with previous versions (which some of us may have read, at least parts of)?

    Forgive me, but I don’t think its reasonable to expect anyone will read this, especially given that all the deals have already been made.

    I mean, what’s the point?

    • If you want data on how far Congress has come, you can read our case studies here:

      My favorite – the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (H.R. 4577) – 262 pages – pages that fully deregulated swaps and derivatives in the first placewere only available for 4 minutes before the bill was passed. That’s crazy.

      It shouldn’t have taken a decade but 68 hours for the parts of the bill that are put up last is a huge achievement.

      I’m not sure where you’re getting your sources on the “most arcane language possible”. Is the bill complex? Absolutely. But personally I’ve found it much easier to follow than health care reform.

      You’re correct that the most difficult part is tracking whats parts have changed. It’s a problem I think alot about and thankfully new tools are being created to help us see the differences. I recommend keeping an eye to Open Congress which can show you which parts have changed which is an amazing feature:

      Keep an eye on that URL for when the new text becomes available. I also can’t underline what Jake said enough: ensuring that the media, policy experts and interest groups have access to the text is absolutely crucial to allow citizens the chance to mobilize, no matter what their opinion of the bill.