The U.S. House of Representatives this week approved a measure offered by Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) that would require the Agriculture spending bill be made available on the Internet for at least 72 hours before coming to a vote. Citing the overwhelming 359-42 margin by which his motion was passed, Congressman Kingston called for the same standard to be applied to every bill considered by Congress.
"While this bill may stand up to congressional scrutiny, the American people also deserve to know what their elected representatives are doing," Congressman Kingston said. "In the past year, we've seen bills like the Wall Street Bailout,' the President's failed economic stimulus' and Cap and Tax' rushed through the House with little time for members or the public to read and fully understand what we're voting on. I think almost everyone would agree with me that allowing members of Congress to read bills isn't a radical idea."
"The hallmark of last minute legislating," says Congressman Kingston "came in June when a 300 page amendment to Cap and Tax' was inserted at three in the morning. By doing so while most in Congress slept and just six hours before we were expected to vote on the legislation, Speaker Pelosi went too far."
That led Congressman Kingston to co-sponsored H. Res. 554, a bipartisan resolution introduced by Congressmen Brian Baird (D-WA) and John Culberson (R-TX) which would apply the same standard to all bills considered by the House. To date, the measure has earned the support of 129 of his colleagues.
After nearly three months of the bill being held up, Congressman Kingston has signed a petition which would force the measure on to the floor for an up or down vote. Led by Congressman Greg Walden, the discharge petition has garnered 178 signatures -- including five Democrats -- just 40 short of the 218 needed to secure a vote on the floor.
Congressman Kingston this summer also signed a pledge to vote against any health care reform legislation not made available for at least 72 hours online prior to the vote or which he has not read personally and in its entirety.