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WASHINGTON, D.C. – In 2010, Republicans made a pledge that if they regained control of Congress they would place all legislation online at least seventy-two hours before bringing them up for a vote. A few days ago they broke they pledge again.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a 574-page continuing resolution that will fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2013. In spite of the fact the Senate’s CR differed from theirs, Republican leadership brought the Senate version up for a vote just over eighteen hours after it passed the Senate.
On Sept. 23, 2010, when House Republican leaders were courting the Tea Party movement in hopes of winning back control of Congress, they released a document called “A Pledge to America.”
“We will govern differently than past Congresses of both parties,” said this Republican pledge. “We will require that every bill contain a citation of Constitutional authority. We will give all Representatives and citizens at least three days to read the bill before a vote.”
At that event, Republican leaders Rep. Jason Chaffetz, then-House Minority Leader John Boehner, then-Minority Whip Eric Cantor, and then-Deputy Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy explained that this language meant the Republicans were promising to the nation that they would post all pieces of legislation online for “at least 72 hours.”
“We are taking a pledge today to do a number of things,” said Chaffetz. “It starts with all pieces of legislation be available online for 72 hours–at least 72 hours–so that the public has a chance to review the legislation and so that members of Congress can actually read the bill.”
“When you look at the Pledge to America that the Republicans have laid out, there is a cultural change in there,” McCarthy told CNN on Oct. 10, 2010. “There is something that opens up the floor that hasn’t been done for quite some time, where bills won’t be written in the back of the room, where the bills have to be laid out for 72 hours, where bills actually have an open rule, where people can bring amendments up on the floor, which any freshman congressman that’s sitting there today has never even seen that happen under the rule of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.”
Back on March 6, when the House Republican leaders called a vote on their version of the CR, they also broke their “Pledge to America” to post bills online for at least seventy-two hours. This final Senate-approved version of the CR was approved by the House 318 to 109 in a vote held the morning after the Senate voted on it, and the final Senate text was made available online by the House Rules Committee.
It seems neither party believes the American people care enough to call their hand on their disregard for their own promises.