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H.R. 554 will require legislation be posted online for 72 hours before consideration

In June, Representative Brian Baird (D-WA)  proposed H.R. 554, which would amend the rules of the House of Representatives to require that non-emergency legislation and associated reports be available on the Internet for 72 hours before consideration by the House.

H.R 554 may be invaluable in promoting transparency and a more informed American public. Ensuring that legislation is available for review online for 72 hours, not including weekends or legal holidays,  would provide time for constituents to review it and make contact with their representatives to voice their opinion.

In this era of extensive debate on health-care reform and environmental measures, with multiple bills being considered for each issue, voters have expressed concerns about bills not being read and understood by those in Washington.

It was revealed in February that many lawmakers in Washington did not fully read the 1434 page stimulus bill (H.R. 1- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) prior to casting their vote. The bill was posted less than 13 hours before coming up for vote, making it necessary to read more than 110 pages per hour in order to have completed it prior to voting. In addition, only 90 minutes was allowed for debate on the bill.

HR 554 is currently being blocked from vote in the House, but had a “Discharge Petition” filed on September 23, 2009.  This requires the bill to be brought to the House floor if a majority of House Members sign the petition. As of October 1, 182 have signed, with another 36 signatures needed to bring the legislation to the floor for consideration.

A list of the 214 co-sponsors of H.R. 554 as well as the signers of the Discharge Petition can be found at OpenCongress. Of the 214 co-sponsors, 33 have not yet signed the Discharge Petition.