Make Congress Read Their Bills Before Voting
Help us pass the
“Read the Bills Act” (RTBA)
You can read the text of RTBA by clicking the Talking Points tab above, or you can start by reading a summary of the legislation below. Following that summary is a description of our strategy for passing RTBA, and then a call to action.
Part 1: What RTBA does and why
Most Congressmen are lawyers, and many others are businessmen. They know what “fiduciary responsibility” is. For Members of Congress, fiduciary responsibility means reading each word of every bill before they vote.
But Congress has not met this duty for a long time. Instead . . .
- They carelessly pass mammoth bills that none of them have read. Sometimes printed copies aren’t even available when they vote!
- Often no one knows what these bills contain, or what they really do, or what they will really cost.
- Additions and deletions are made at the last minute, in secrecy.
- They combine unpopular proposals with popular measures that few in Congress want to oppose. (This practice is called “log-rolling.”)
- And votes are held with little debate or public notice.
- Oh, and once these bills are passed, and one of these unpopular proposals comes to light, they pretend to be shocked. “How did that get in there?” they say.
There’s a basic principle at stake here. America was founded on the slogan, “No taxation without representation.” A similar slogan applies to this situation:
“No LEGISLATION without representation.”
We hold this truth to be self-evident, that those in Congress who vote on legislation they have not read, have not represented their constituents. They have misrepresented them.
And since Congress has repeatedly committed “legislation without representation,” strong measures to prohibit these Congressional misrepresentations are both justified and required.
To this end we have created the “Read the Bills Act (RTBA).” RTBA requires that . . .
- Each bill, and every amendment, must be read in its entirety before a quorum in both the House and Senate.
- Every member of the House and Senate must sign a sworn affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that he or she has attentively either personally read, or heard read, the complete bill to be voted on.
- Every old law coming up for renewal under the sunset provisions must also be read according to the same rules that apply to new bills.
- Every bill to be voted on must be published on the Internet at least 7 days before a vote, and Congress must give public notice of the date when a vote will be held on that bill.
- Passage of a bill that does not abide by these provisions will render the measure null and void, and establish grounds for the law to be challenged in court.
- Congress cannot waive these requirements.
The effects of these provisions will be profound . . .
- Congress will have to slow down. This means the pace of government growth will also slow.
- Bills will shrink, be less complicated, and contain fewer subjects, so that Congress will be able to endure hearing them read.
- Fewer bad proposals will be passed due to “log-rolling.”
- No more secret clauses will be inserted into bills at the last moment.
- Government should shrink as old laws reach their sunset date, and have to be read for the first time before they can be renewed.
And all of these things will enable a larger DownsizeDC.org to more effectively lobby Congress for small government.
Part 2: Our Strategy for passing RTBA
Our plan for passing this legislation is simple, but powerful.
- We have submitted a copy of RTBA to every member of Congress.
- We are asking every member of the House and Senate to sponsor this legislation and work for its passage.
- We are mounting a campaign to recruit thousands, and perhaps millions of Americans to lobby Congress to support RTBA.
- We are promoting this campaign with a variety of tactics, from Internet networking, to media interviews, to whatever it takes.
- We will run targeted radio ads, letting citizens know that their Congressman is failing to support this badly needed reform.
The need for this reform is so self-evident that nearly every person in America should support it, and few oppose it. We see no reason why we should not be able to overwhelm Congress with calls to pass this legislation.
- We dare Congress not to pass it. The more they resist, the larger and stronger we will grow.
- We dare anyone to challenge it in Court. The more the lobbyists attempt to defeat this reform, the larger and stronger we will grow.
- We dare the Courts to declare it un-Constitutional. If they do, we will grow larger and stronger as a result — probably big enough to begin a campaign to amend the Constitution to forbid “LEGISLATION without representation.”
There is simply no reason that any normal, tax-paying American should oppose RTBA. And the more the “powers that be” resist these reforms, the larger and stronger we will grow.
We win either way. And thus, we believe, we will win in the end.
Part 3: A Call to Action
You can help pass RTBA. All you have to do is register to use our easy Electronic Lobbyist system and send a message to your Representative and your Senators asking them to pass RTBA. Registering to use our system will also enable you to lobby Congress on other issues, and to receive our free email newsletter, Downsizer-Dispatch. This free email newsletter will keep you posted on progress with RTBA and other Downsize DC lobbying campaigns. To send your message to Congress in support of RTBA click here.