Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Baird's "read the bill" proposal

Brian Baird wants Congress to read legislation before it is passed. From The Oregonian:
But even with Democrats moving into the majority next month, it's unlikely they will pass Baird's full proposal to post the bills on the Internet 72 hours before the House votes on them. Baird probably will receive a scaled-back compromise.

The Southwest Washington Democrat's fight illustrates the difficulty in making Congress even slightly more transparent. He said he expects some improvements in House procedure, but he isn't counting on his full proposal to pass.

"It's like everything back there," Baird said. "People become accustomed to the status quo."

Late-night, secretive votes have been a problem in the House for years. One recent example is the provision in a defense bill that eliminates the office of U.S. inspector general in Iraq. Many legislators said they didn't know that was in the bill until after they voted on it in September.
Baird has been after this issue for some time, and it's the kind of practical improvement he has often focused on while in Congress. Keep in mind Baird has never served with the majority party, as he was first elected in 1998, so it will be interesting to see how how he does now.

One possible problem on this issue, according to the Oregonian article, is that leadership may not want to give up the ability to make last-second deals. Which is understandable, but it's simply not acceptable to be passing bills when nobody knows what the heck is in them. The Republican House took that to new levels of absurdity.

It sounds most likely Baird will get half a loaf on this, which is still a step forward.

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