« PreviousContinue »
The reforms which I have previously described would go a long way toward addressing their concerns.
I was proud the day I entered Congress. I hope to have even greater pride in the institution and its capacity for effective democratic government when the time comes for me to leave.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. Your efforts to reform Congress are timely and needed.
As some of you may know, I am a small businessman who never held public office before being elected to Congress two years ago. I was shocked when time after time we voted on major pieces of legislation with no copies of the bill available for individual members to study, or even to scan.
For example, we passed the $95 billion bailout of the FDIC and the RTC with one copy available for all 435 members to examine in the early morning hours the day before Thanksgiving.
Another example was when we passed H.R. 11 in the final hours of the 102d Congress. I don't believe there was a single member on the floor that night who knew what was really in that tax bill.
In the business world, a CEO or board member who proposed a major undertaking of that nature without making written copies available for each participant would be fired on the spot.
My legislation, H. Res. 26, simply amends the Rules of the House to prohibit putting the question on final passage of any measure until printed copies of that measure have been available to all members for at least one day.
This measure makes so much sense that it has already been co-sponsored by 46 members with little salesmanship on my part.
This simple change in the Rules allows members an opportunity to view the provisions of a bill before they vote on the measure. Guaranteeing members this right to be informed of legislation we are voting on would move us light years ahead.
My bill also contains a provision which allows this rule to be suspended only upon the joint request of the Speaker and the minority leader based upon a determination of national emergency and an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members.
I have heard from many Freshman members who are surprised that there is not a provision in the rules requiring that printed copies be available. Many of them came here from state legislatures who have this rule.
I know that my state of New Hampshire has this same rule. State legislators I talked with said that at first implementing this rule caused some problems for staff and old school politicians, but it was so well received be rank and file members, the media and public interest groups, that it is enthusiastically complied with today.