WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) gave America a disturbing look at what happens behind-the-scenes in the legislature. While a printer worked furiously behind him, Lee explained how the Senate was just given under 1 hour to read and comprehend a massive spending bill before the scheduled vote.
Here is Senator Lee’s message from July 21st, 2015:
LEE: We received this bill at 3:07 p.m. The bill is 1,033 pages long. We’re being called on to vote on it at 4 o’clock. We’re only up to about page 500 in printing it off. I’m pretty sure that its going to be hard to read the whole bill in its entirety and understand it in the roughly 30 minutes between now and when we have to vote on the bill.
If I don’t have time to read legislation before voting on it, my default vote is no. We received the highway bill today at 3:06 p.m., and it is over 1,000 pages long. Our first vote on this legislation is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.
Posted by United States Senator Mike Lee on Tuesday, July 21, 2015
“If I don’t have time to read legislation before voting on it, my default vote is no,” Senator Lee commented on his video. That’s a principle endorsed by Police State USA in a 2013 article, A Pro-Liberty Approach to Lawmaking.
Responsibility for the rush-to-vote ultimately lies with the Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY). McConnell reportedly had just reached a deal with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on six years of federal spending and wanted to ram it through with little debate and no amendments. The schedule made it sot that effectively no one aside from the authors would know for sure what was buried in the massive bill.
It goes without saying that if the Senators themselves don’t have a chance to read a bill, then neither does the voting public have a chance to analyze it and give feedback to their representatives. The very idea of voting on bills without debate is undemocratic and incompatible with a free society.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have seen egregious abuse of power from majority leaders. Last session, House leader John Boehner successfully pushed through a federal gun-ban with only 10 (out of 435) members present!
Fortunately, McConnell’s treacherous maneuver was unsuccessful, this time. Riled opponents rejected a motion to begin debate, 41-56.
Despite the setback, McConnell intends to pressure a vote as soon as possible, even if it means keeping the Senate in session over the weekend. Even with a few extra days, who can realistically read, digest, and understand 1,033 pages of legalese in under a week?
When Americans correctly understand the level of corruption in the legislature, there can be no wondering about the source of the bad laws and injustices we lament so frequently on this website. The only remedy is more exposure and political pressure, but the vast majority of voters are too wrapped up with sports and Reality TV to be bothered with political activism.