Campaign Asks Congress to ‘Pledge to Read’ Bills Before Voting on Them

July 2, 2009 - 3:21 PM
Members of Congress are being asked to pledge that they won't vote on health-care reform legislation unless they have read the bill.    

House of Representatives, U.S. Congress. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Members of Congress are being asked to pledge that they will read the bills that come before them before voting to enact them into law.
 
“We think the American public expects their legislators to know what’s in a bill before they support it and we’re urging legislators to sign a pledge to that effect,” Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, told CNSNews.com.
 
Let Freedom Ring, a conservative organization, recently kicked off a "Pledge to Read” campaign, which challenges congressmen to be loyal to their constituents before voting on the health-care reform bill.
 
The “Responsible Healthcare Reform Pledge” says the following:
 
“I, (Name inserted here), pledge to my constituents and to the American people that I will not vote to enact any health-care reform package that: 1) I have not read, personally, in its entirety; and, 2) Has not been available, in its entirety, to the American people on the Internet for at least 72 hours, so that they can read it too.”
 
CNSNews.com reported last week that many congressmen had not read the mammoth 1,550-page energy bill before casting their votes last Monday. The bill would radically alter energy costs in the United States if adopted.

In February, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) told CNSNews.com that his fellow members of Congress were not going to read the 1,071-page, $787-billion economic stimulus bill before casting their yeas and nays.  
 
When asked by CNSNews.com who had signed the pledge so far, Hanna responded with the following:
 
“The first two were two whose paths I happened to cross last week. And they were Sen. (Jim) DeMint (R-S.C.) and Sen. (James) Inhofe (R-Okla.). And we have four members of Congress that have indicated to me that they will sign the pledge when they get the piece of paper in front of them or through the fax machine.”
 
Hanna described to CNSNews.com how simple this pledge is:
 
“There is no rational reason why anyone could oppose it. There may be irrational reasons; there may be political reasons why they oppose it. But there is no rational reason why you couldn't make at least a minimal effort to read the bill before voting in favor of it,” Hanna said.
 
When asked by CNSNews.com if he believed that “those who signed the pledge would stay true to it,” Hanna responded:
 
“If not, they’ll have to answer to their own constituents and we will make sure that their own constituents are aware of their pledge violations -- and aggressively so,” he said.
 
The pledge campaign could gain steam after Congress returns from the Fourth of July break.
 
Subsequent to the interview, CNSNews.com learned that two more lawmakers had signed the pledge, Reps. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.).
 
Earlier in the week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would agree only to “follow the rules” and allow members and the public access to the bill’s language within 48 hours.