Thursday, January 26, 2006

CLEAN UP Washington

Senator Obama recently introduced legislation that offers real reform by increasing transparency in government and decreasing the influence [sic] of lobbyists in the legislative process. It's called the Curtailing Lobbyist Effectiveness through Advance Notification, Updates, and Posting Act (CLEAN UP Act)

This bill would require that all legislation introduced in the Senate, including conference reports, be posted on the Internet 72 hours before the legislation is voted on by the full Senate, including specific projects - or "earmarks" - that under current law are anonymously attached to appropriations bills. It would also require conference committee meetings and deliberations to be open to the public or be televised and would require both chambers of Congress to identify any changes made to conference reports and which member made the change.

Letting bloggers review legislation a full three days before a vote would be a huge boon to the democratic process.  Senators, now, have no shame in adding amendments and earmarks to an otherwise commendable bill (assuming that such a thing exists) because no one is paying attention.  By keeping pork and other such nonsense in the dark Senators are free to act of their own cognizance and self-interest – but bringing such antics to the light of day would – perhaps – shame them into a bit of restraint occasionally.

More information is (almost) always better than no information, barring some fine print that they wouldn’t care to mention in a press release, I can think of no reason not to support such a bill.  Supporters of the status quo will invent all sorts of “harm” such a delay would cause but read it for what it is -  obstructionism.

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