Last week, as The Free Press recently reported, the Democrats in Congress rammed through a 2,741-page budget bill in roughly 24 hours.
That was a piker compared to one passed in the waning days of the Trump administration. A spending bill that former President Donald Trump signed in December 2020 was the largest ever adopted by Congress, a hefty 5,593 pages.
Such monstrosities only confirm the suspicion that lawmakers have no idea what they’re voting for – as current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted in 2010 of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, when she said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
Republican Sen. Rand Paul believes it’s time Congress stopped such nonsense.
In an opinion article for Newsmax, published Friday, the Kentucky Republican argued lawmakers must actually read the bills, or write shorter ones.
As Paul wrote, “I’m renewing my call for Congress to do the bare minimum and read the very bills they are voting on.”
He noted that the recent budget bill was “released in the dead of night, mere hours before a vote took place.”
Paul pointed out that someone who read one page a minute would still need 45 hours to get through it. And that’s with no breaks.
“Do you think there is a single person in the U.S. who believes that Congress is filled with speed-readers capable of digesting thousands of pages in a matter of hours?” Paul wrote.
The obvious answer is no.
“But again,” Paul added, “Congress didn’t even try to pretend they spent time reading the bill because the U.S. House voted on it a few hours after it was completed, and the Senate voted a day later.”
“I can guarantee you no lawmaker read the bill – or even had time to read it.”
Accordingly, Paul said he was renewing his advocacy for his own “Read the Bills” rule.
“My resolution requires bills, amendments, and conference reports to be available for one day for every 20 pages before they can be considered, while leaving legislators room to act in emergencies,” the senator explained.
As an example, with his rule, the recently passed spending bill would be available for 137 days before the Senate would vote.
“If Congress wants quicker action,” Paul added, “they could write shorter bills.”
There is no doubt that Congress is making legislation more complex and unwieldy.
In a blog post last July, the consulting firm S&P Global Market Intelligence noted, “A law passed in the 1947-48 Congress was 2.5 pages. Today, the average length is 17.9 pages.”
And one way that lawmakers are able to deal with this growth is by relying on specialists.
“These are typically lawyers who can understand the technicalities of the language, and whom (sic) then provide the Member of Congress with a summary and insight ahead of a vote,” the firm pointed out.
“Reading the legislation we vote on is a very reasonable request,” Paul continued. “It’s something I think voters expect from their elected members. Even kids in elementary school are able to complete their assigned reading, why can’t Congress?”
If Congress really read the bills, like the nearly 3,000-page omnibus bill, they’d probably be amazed at all the waste that’s shoved into it. But then again, most are proud of the pork barrel funding they’ve secured for their constituency.”
Paul maintained that if a project is worth millions of taxpayers’ dollars, then it “shouldn’t have to be secretly slipped into a random bill.”
Personally, I’ve found one can advocate and deliver for their constituency without cramming it into a 1,000-page bill,” he continued. “There are processes in place to do things the right way that don’t involve wasting taxpayer dollars.”
“My resolution will not only give members ample time to read and review all legislation before they vote but also incentivize legislation to be shorter,” Paul concluded.
“Good legislation shouldn’t need to be thousands of pages long. Congress needs to realize they aren’t fooling anyone.”