Sunlight Rule May Shine Some Light on Lawmaking

The night before the stimulus bill was set to be voted on, the finalized copy was posted online. That left Congress less than 24 hours to read through and understand over 1,000 pages of legislation — legislation that would have a huge impact on the American people. This “rush to the roll call” is common, and critics – including Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) – believe the process doesn’t give legislators enough time to fully understand everything that they were supposed to vote on.

To curb this type of rush voting, Paul has reintroduced legislation known as the Sunlight Rule.

The proposed rule “prohibits any piece of legislation from being brought before the House of Representatives unless it has been available to Members and staff in both print and electronic versions for at least ten days.”

It also sets up guidelines for conference reports and manger’s amendments that make changes to a bill be made available 72 hours before being set to a vote in both print and electronic versions.

Finally, this rule would also give the people direct involvement in its enforcement. In a statement issued by Ron Paul he writes that it would allow “a citizen to move for censure of any House Member who votes for a bill brought to the floor in violation of this act.”

The stimulus bill isn’t the only bill that has been rushed to a vote with little time for Congress to review it. It happened with various omnibus bills, the bill for The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and with The Patriot Act under former President Bush.

In a statement Rep. Paul said, “Voting on bills before Members have had time to learn what is in the bill cheats the voters who sent us here to make informed decisions on public policy.”