Boehner says lawmakers should expect to do more reading if he becomes House Speaker
Republican John Boehner wants you to know that if his party wins control of the House of Representatives and he becomes the chamber’s next Speaker, things will be a lot different.
For starters, Boehner says lawmakers in both parties will get a better opportunity to actually read bills before they vote on them.
“One of the things that the American people are most fed up with is the practice of rushing massive, expensive bills to the floor before anyone has had a chance to read them,” Boehner said this week in looking ahead to the November election.
“It’s a culture of garbage in, garbage out,” he said.
“If we are fortunate enough to be in the majority and I were fortunate enough be the speaker of the House, I would run the House differently than it has been run under both Democrats and Republicans,” Boehner said.
For decades — and with varying frequency — bills have been rammed through Congress without lawmakers or the public getting much, if any, chance to read them.
Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a government watchdog group, said “some of the greatest abuses” occurred in the few years before Democrats won the House from Republicans in 2006.
Newly empowered Democrats promptly imposed a rule that legislation must be in print and published in the Congressional Record for at least three days before a House vote.
But Holman said the House Democratic majority can waive this rule at will — and has often done so.
Over the years, Republicans and Democrats have rushed votes on bills for a variety of reasons, perhaps to quickly address an emergency or to begin a congressional recess on time.
Boehner supports a stalled bipartisan bill that would require legislation to be posted on the Internet for 72 hours before a vote.
The measure would still allow waivers, but only with the approval of a two-thirds vote of the House Rules Committee, “so this bill is pretty good,” Holman said.
House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer shrugs off Boehner’s pledge to give lawmakers more time if Republicans capture the House and end four years of Democratic rule.
“This eventuality of which he speaks is not going to happen,” Hoyer told a Capitol Hill news conference, drawing laughter from fellow House Democrats.
“The hypothetical is so unreasonable and so unlikely to happen that it really doesn’t bear commenting on — other than to say we have provided for the time for people to read bills,” he said.
Hoyer said the landmark U.S. healthcare legislation, totaling more than 2,400 pages and backed by President Barack Obama, had “more consideration than any other bill, perhaps, in the history of the Congress of the United States.”
Reuters/Yuri Gripas (Boehner at House GOP conference meeting March 20)