After the Senate passed a $1.5 trillion, 2,471-page spending package earlier this month, Rand Paul marveled at the fact that his colleagues could do this in “the middle of the night” and “just hours before we were expected to vote on it.”
The answer is they couldn’t have possibly read the legislation.
Leo Tolstoy’s classic War and Peace would take almost an estimated 38 hours to read—and the novel is less than half the length of the spending package at a mere 1,296 pages.
There is no way the politicians who signed off on this thing could have properly digested it. They just voted with the herd. That’s how things are done in Washington.
Sen. Paul doesn’t think it should be this way.
“(D)o you really think there is a single person in the United States who actually believes that Congress is filled with speed readers capable of digesting thousands of pages in a matter of hours? Probably not,” Paul wrote in a recent op-ed for Fox News. “But the big spenders of both parties in Washington love keeping that under wraps.”
The fiscally conservative Republican has offered a solution.
“I have legislation in the Senate to fix the issue, a resolution to give members ample time to read the bills before they vote. It would also increase transparency and incentivize legislation to be shorter,” Paul wrote.
Paul’s bill would give legislators one day to read every 20 pages of bills before they could be brought up for a vote.
Paul said if this rule were in place before the recent spending package was passed, it would’ve forced lawmakers to take 137 days to fully consider the spending legislation. This would’ve allowed for much more public scrutiny of how our tax dollars are being spent, too.
The senator said the goal is a more responsible government.
“We would have had 137 days for the general public to discover exactly what special favors, in the form of earmarks, were snuck in under the auspices of essential budgetary items,” Paul observed.
A few examples from the latest bill via Paul.
“Do you think $2.5 million for biking trails in Vermont is really a spending priority?” he asked. “What about $4.2 million for the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station or $1.6 million for the development of equitable growth of the shellfish aquaculture industry in Rhode Island?”
There are more curious examples.
And legislators should know about them. The American people should also have a better understanding of where their tax dollars are going.
Rand Paul’s bill to allow Congress to read the bills should be implemented, which is precisely the reason it likely won’t.