In November 2006, Speaker Pelosi pledged to lead the “most honest” and “most open” Congress in history. Yet, in my first year alone, I’ve watched as Congressional Leadership rammed through thousand-page bills, amendments crafted in the dead of night and, now, closed door negotiations on a massive health care overhaul.
It’s just common sense: the American people, as well as members of Congress, should know what bills contain before votes take place. Previous Congresses, including those led by both parties, have too often failed to live up to this standard. Now is the time for Congress to change, and I’m committed to bring more sunlight and transparency to the entire legislative process.
In fact, just yesterday I took part in a press conference with other House freshman that called for greater transparency in the pieces of legislation that are coming before us for a vote. As representatives fresh to Capitol Hill, we are determined to change business as usual as we continue through our first term.
Furthermore, earlier this year, I successfully passed a bill to bring previously nonexistent transparency to spending of bailout funds. However, Congress must do much more. Some examples of additional measures I am working to increase transparency are:
- READ THE BILL. Put all bills online for at least 72 hours before they come to a vote.
- BAN “PHANTOM AMENDMENTS.” Require committees to post bill text online within 24 hours of adoption.
- OPEN HEALTH CARE NEGOTIATIONS TO THE PUBLIC . Prevent secret deals behind closed doors and ensure a full and open debate.
- BRING SUNLIGHT TO THE RULES COMMITTEE. Allow cameras in the secretive Rules Committee, which decides which bills come to a vote.