The Bill is Online

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The budget deal bill is online for everyone to see.

For all of the other feelings everyone has about how the budget deal occurred (and Sunlight has plenty), or feelings about what is in it, the fact that it’s online shouldn’t be overlooked.

Because it’s remarkable.

The same Congress has voted time and again on matters of enormous importance without nearly enough time for its own Members to understand what they’re voting on.

That has started to change.

Even if Boehner continues to skirt his pledge for 72 hours for all bills, and even if negotiations on essential legislation continue to happen through a tiny group of party leaders, having time to understand what’s in bills is important.

Every news story that talks about Members deciding how they’ll vote — whipping for or against the bill, politicians forming coalitions and posturing for or against the bill — all that politicking is *only possible* because it’s become necessary for congressional leaders to put bills online before votes. That posturing and speechmaking is the stuff of representation; the noise our legislature makes when policy reality grinds against our politics.

And it’s important that it be permitted to happen.

There’s representation and deliberation happening now, and even if it’s over a bill whose fate has all but been determined, the fact that it’s happening at all is amazing. The bar has been raised, and we’re going to be spared at least the indignity of our representatives voting on a bill they haven’t seen.

Congress can be changed, and sometimes for the better.

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