Congressman Garrett Wants More Time for Lawmakers to Review Legislation

Apr 6, 2018

Credit AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta

How long should members of Congress have to actually read the legislation they are voting on?

Remember that giant omnibus spending bill that passed Congress last month? It was 2,232 pages. How long would it take you to read that? Republican Congressman Tom Garrett says the average person reads about one page every two minutes. So even if they read it without eating or sleeping it would take about 74 hours. House members were given 15 hours.

“As Republicans we criticized Leader Pelosi when she said we have to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it. And then we took control of both chambers and didn’t change a darn thing, which strikes me as hypocritical.”

That’s why he introduced the Review Every Act Diligently In Total Act, known as the READ IT Act. It requires any bill to be publicly available for a number of minutes that’s double the number of pages.

Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University is skeptical.

“I unfortunately don’t think that members of Congress will use that time reading the bill. They will use that time doing other things, and they will continue to do what most of them do right now, which is to pay attention to their staff or listen to what lobbyists say.”

Garrett already has two members of the Virginia delegation sign on, both Republicans. But he’s hoping all 13 members — in both parties, House and Senate — will sign on to his effort so they can force leadership to give members more time to actually read the bills they’re voting on.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.