Here’s a Novel Idea: How About Senators Read the Bills They Vote On?

Here’s a Novel Idea: How About Senators Read the Bills They Vote On?

Rand Paul wants Senators to be able to read the bills they’re voting on.

Your response should be, “Wait, this doesn’t already happen?”

Nope, it doesn’t. So Paul introduced legislation that would force the Senate to give its members time to read proposed bills – one day for every 20 pages in the bill, as Pete Kasperowicz of The Hill reported.

Doesn’t this seem dumbfoundingly obvious – like, so obvious it’s almost impossible to fathom that this isn’t currently a rule?

Yet it’s not. At some point, the Capitol bouncer dragged common sense out of the Senate chamber by its ear, threw it on the sidewalk, then told it never to come back while slamming the building’s doors shut.

Common sense isn’t a belligerent drunk at a college bar – it belongs in the building! So Paul is trying to get it re-admitted, and with a permanent VIP table.

The legislation stems from the 2012 session, when the Senate was forced to vote on a 600-page bill containing highway funding, federal flood insurance, and student interest loan rates – a bill they received the morning of the vote.

Reports Kasperowicz on The Hill:

“After blasting the Senate last week for passing a 600-page bill no one had time to read, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced legislation that would force the Senate to give its members one day to read bills for every 20 pages they contain.

‘For goodness sakes, this is a 600-page bill. I got it this morning,’ Paul said Friday, just before the Senate approved a massive bill extending highway funding, federal flood insurance and low student loans rates.

‘Not one member of the Senate will read this bill before we vote on it,’ he added.”

So for example, if a bill was 80 pages long, the Senate would have to wait four session days before voting on it.

What’s more alarming, with the vote on the spending bill that sparked Paul’s new legislation, is that the Senate was supposed to wait 48 hours anyway before voting on it. Yet “the Senate failed to follow even that minimal rule.”

“’At the very least, we ought to adhere to our own rules,’ [Paul] said. ‘Forty-eight hours is still a challenge to find out everything in here.’

The Senate voted 72-22 to waive the rule requiring a 48-hour layover, after Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and other Republicans raised a point of order against the bill because it came up too quickly.”

Here’s something to ponder: What would happen at your job if you approved a plan that you were supposed to read, but didn’t? You probably wouldn’t last much longer at that job. So why is the Senate able to get away with it?

That’s what Paul is not just asking, but actively trying to do something about.

Bring common sense back into the Senate, please.



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