This time around, the Democrats are the Bad Guys
What's that? A bill to fight the climate crisis being compared to the so-called "Patriot" Act?
If you saw Michael Moore's infamous Fahrenheit 9/11, you may remember the shocking confession by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan that in Congress they often don't actually read the bill.
And this is just what happened yesterday. Apparently 300 pages were added at the last minute to the bill at 3 AM. And regardless of their motivation for wanting or not wanting the bill, it was the Republicans who were right for trying to actually put the brakes on the process and actually give themselves time to read the bill. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, raised questions about whether "there was even a copy of the current version of the bill anywhere in the House chamber."
So now are you starting to see the parallels between this and the "Patriot" Act? I don't care what a bill is supposed to solve; if Congress allows it to be pushed through to passage like the railroad car in Back to the Future Part III, then there is a big problem with Congress. And this time, it's the Democrats who are conducting this train - not the evil Republicans.
So where does our representative, Pete Stark, stand on this? I'm not sure. According to SolveClimate, Stark voted No "on the grounds that the bill wasn't strong enough". OK, that's fine. But I really want to find out what he thinks about the whole way that the Democrats are allowing bills to be passed, unread.
This is a defining moment for the Democratic Party. It fills me with incredible sorrow that we had fought for so long to wrestle control of Congress away from the Republicans, only to have the Democrats do basically the same thing.
What is in these 300 pages that were snuck in at 3 AM? We'll probably find out soon enough, just as we eventually did with the "Patriot" Act, and I'm pretty sure we're not going to like what it contains. Even if the overall purpose of the bill is a "good" thing, sneaking in 300 pages of provisions without vetting them is most assuredly not. Remember, at the time that the "Patriot" Act was proposed, everybody thought it was critical that it be passed for national security. Boy, do we wish that never happened!
The only glimmer of hope is that there is a movement afoot to stop the passage of laws in the dark like this. It's called "Read the Bill." The idea is that all leglislation be made available to the public (on the Internet) for 72 hours before it can be voted upon.
There is a bill on the floor in Congress, called H. Res 554, which would put this rule into effect. I have been trying to find out if Pete Stark is in favor of this (and if he'll even sign on as a co-sponsor). I've gotten the run-around from his office.
If you have a moment, please call Rep. Stark at 202-225-5065 (Washington DC) or 510-494-1388 (Fremont Office) and tell the receptionist about H. Res. 554. (It's important to use the term "H. Res." and not "H.R.")
Shame on Nancy Pelosi. Shame on Henry Waxman. Shame on Congress. We should be better than this.