'What's in that bill?' The risk of deadline votes
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Christian Science Monitor
Posted: November 11th, 2006
The first session of the 109th Congress is over, but lawmakers and interest groups are still sorting out what surprises may have been buried in its final bills. A clause added here or lifted there can shift the fortunes of whole industries and regions. The year ended in a crush of tough negotiations, late-night votes, and hastily printed bills so vast that few lawmakers had time to read them. Early in the morning on Dec. 19, lawmakers got their first glimpse of the 774-page final version of a nearly $40 billion spending cut bill. The time? 1:12 a.m. House members had to vote on the measure just four and a half hours later. While the rules say that a conference agreement can't include elements that haven't been voted in either the House or Senate...they are often violated. Senate negotiators were stunned to learn that GOP House leaders had added a whole campaign-finance bill to the final conference report on the Defense authorization bill they had already signed. The new language...was added to the bill after the conference had closed. Another provision, granting immunity from liability to manufacturers of flu vaccine, was added at the last minute to the FY 2006 Defense Appropriations bill.
Note: Few people are aware that in clear violation of Congressional rules, the Patriot Act was passed only hours after significant changes were made to what had been previously agreed upon. No members of Congress had the opportunity to read all of these changes, which eroded significantly more civil rights and liberties than had been previously agreed. For more on this, click here.