Last night on Fox News, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) complained about the process of moving bills forward for a vote. “I’m going to introduce a resolution here in the House that would require all committees to post within 24 hours the actions taken by their committee,” he declared.
Host Greta Van Susteren piled on. “Why in the world don’t we have that?” After Boehner spent much of the segment calling on the Democratic majority to “let people read these bills,” Van Susteren turned the tables and asked Boehner what the standard practice was when the Republicans were in power:
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, when your party was in leadership in the House and there were issues about transparency, any recollection how you handled it? Did you guys resist it at all? I realize that different times, but did you resist it at all?
BOEHNER: Well, it was a different time. I can tell you when I was Majority Leader, at the time, in almost all cases, I insisted that members have at least 24 hours to read a bill before it came to the floor. But that was — it’s a different time. I’ve made a commitment, and as have my Republican members, that if we take the majority back, we will have a requirement that no bill will come to the floor that hasn’t been out and available to the public and to the members for at least three days.
Boehner may have “insisted” that members have at least 24 hours to read a bill before a vote when he was (briefly) Majority Leader, but that guidance wasn’t always followed. At 9:21 P.M. on Sept. 26, 2006, the House Rules Committee reported the Military Commissions Act to the House, which then was voted on and passed at 4:45 P.M. the next day. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 also had about a day after it was reported out of committee and before it was voted on in the House.
When asked if the GOP leadership waved rules requiring at least 72 hours for members to read bills before voting on them, former Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA) said, “Absolutely — it is among the most commonly waived rules the House has.”
Indeed, during the GOP’s House reign, Republican leaders rushed major pieces of legislation through without giving 24 hours for members to read over the bills, let alone 72, including the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit, President Bush’s second tax cut for the wealthy in 2003, and the USA Patriot Act of 2001.
In fact, presumably much to Boehner’s delight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently pledged to put health care reform legislation, and any amendment, online “for at least 72 hours before the House votes.”