No Sunlight on the Omnibus
Christmas tradition Congress could do without is the broken process of passing
the annual Omnibus Spending Bill, which we recently did right before the holiday
December Congress fights and argues over spending and never seems to be
able to pass the necessary appropriations until the very last minute.
There is panic and threats of government shut downs and reduction in essential
services. And they always threaten the essential services, as if there is
no waste they could possibly eliminate instead. This past December, right
on cue the administration warned about dire civilian defense department
layoffs if the money didn't come soon.
so at the very last minute the Omnibus was rushed through in a whirlwind, just
in time to save the day. Members of Congress had less than 24 hours
to read the nearly 3,500 page bill before a vote was taken. The
bill was supposedly much too important to waste time reading it.
feel differently. I feel the important bills are the ones we should take especial
care to closely examine.
we are led to believe that if the Omnibus bill failed, horrible things would
have happened. But the situation is a setup that ensures our government
spending balloons every year just as the elites and special interests dictate. The
vast majority of Members of Congress don't actually know what the
money is being spent on until after passage and by then it is too
this flawed and corruptible process I have proposed a very simple change
called the Sunlight Rule, which mandates that bills be presented to Congress and
staff for review in their final form no less than 10 days before they come
to the floor for a vote. This would allow the representatives of the
American people time to read the bills before having to make a decision on them.
Every now and then you hear criticisms of congressmen and women for not
reading the bills. That is a problem, however in cases like the
Omnibus spending bills, a few hours is not nearly enough time to comb through
and evaluate the hundreds of pages they contain. The rules do not
currently specify any amount of time that must be allotted for Congress to read
or deliberate any legislation before a vote. That needs to change.
should read the bills. But to do that requires an appropriate amount
of time. More appropriately phrased, Congress should be ALLOWED to read
the bills. And no member of Congress should, in good conscience, vote
affirmatively on a bill they haven't fully analyzed.
am hoping that in the New Year more of my colleagues will resolve to take a
stand for honesty and due diligence in representing the people of this country
and that we can enact the Sunlight Rule. With it, we will be a wiser, more
open Congress and our decisions in