One 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 recess.
Every 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.
And 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.
I feel differently. I feel the important bills
are the ones we should take especial care to closely examine.
However, 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 late.
To address 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.
Congress 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.
I 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
will be more deliberative and fully informed as they ought to be.
Ron Paul of Texas enjoys a national reputation as the
premier advocate for liberty in politics today. Dr. Paul
is the leading spokesman in Washington for limited constitutional government,
low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies based on
commodity-backed currency. For more information click on the Project Freedom website.
Published with the authorization of Dr. Paul.
Copyright Dr. Ron Paul