White House Lags On Promise To Post Bills Online - InformationWeek

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4/13/2009
11:58 AM
K.C. Jones
K.C. Jones
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White House Lags On Promise To Post Bills Online

The Cato Institute has called on the White House to do better and deliver on its promise to post all non-emergency bills online for five days before President Barack Obama signs them.

The Cato Institute has called on the White House to do better and deliver on its promise to post all non-emergency bills online for five days before President Barack Obama signs them."Members of Congress are highly skilled political risk balancers, and the President's firm insistence on leaving bills sitting out there, unsigned, after they pass Congress would have a significant effect on congressional behavior," Jim Harper, Cato's director of information policy studies, said in a statement released Monday.

"It would threaten to reveal excesses in parochial amendments and earmarks, which could bring down otherwise good bills," he said. "Recognizing the negative attention they could draw to themselves, representatives and senators would act with more circumspection, and last-minute add-ons to big bills would recede."

Harper also said that the White House would set an example with the five-day posting rule and encourage the House of Representatives and the Senate to increase transparency as well.

Although some bills have been posted before signing, others have not.

The Cato Institute has urged the President's staff to post bills presented by Congress in a standard location and allow public comment.

Harper said emergency bills could be excluded but they should be limited to those that would harm the health or safety of individuals or groups if not passed immediately.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has said that the administration is working on a process to ensure that the public has five days to view legislation after Congress passes it and before President Obama signs it.

The Cato Institute has urged White House staff to complete that sooner, rather than later, saying that stimulus bill provisions allowing millions of dollars to go to AIG executives could have been caught if public review procedures had been in place.

Whether or not that's the case, the White House should follow through on its promise as soon as possible.

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