“Congress has to read the bills, if they want to claim they represent us,” declares Jim Babka, President of DownsizeDC.org, Inc. “The ‘Read the Bills Act’ restores fiduciary duty in Congress.”
Under the Read the Bills Act (RTBA, S. 1571), members of Congress would have to sign an affidavit indicating they’ve read the bill or heard it read to them before voting Yes on the bill. Courts would be prohibited from enforcing laws that didn’t meet this requirement.
“You can’t claim ignorance of the law as a defense in court,” Babka continues. “So there shouldn’t be any excuse for politicians to pass huge bills they haven’t read.”
Senator Paul has been featuring this issue as one of his priorities while on the campaign trail. The Senator himself observes that, “Too often in Congress, legislation is shoved through without hearings, amendments or debate. Elected officials are rarely given an adequate amount of time to read the bills in full, and unlike Rep. Nancy Pelosi, I believe we must read the bills before passing them into law.”
RTBA also requires the bill to be posted online for seven days before the final vote. This, Senator Paul notes, will give Americans “sufficient time to read and give input to Members of Congress as they consider legislation.”
This simple, “transpartisan” act is hard for members of Congress to accept. But Americans love it. Grover Norquist, in his book, Leave Us Alone, called the bill an essential reform for transparency, applauding the fact that it prohibits sneaking-in last minute deals.
Babka commends Senator Paul. “He’s not only re-introduced this bill, which would be a law that would protect individuals, but he’s also put forth a Read the Bill rule, which would require the Senate to have a waiting period of bill publication for the vote. He’s truly committed to this issue.”
To help attract more co-sponsors to Senator Paul’s bill, DownsizeDC.org offers a free tool for constituents to deliver letters directly to their Representative and two Senators. Here’s the link: https://secure.downsizedc.org/etp/rtba/