Joe Wilson: Petition to Put Bills On Line for 72 Hours Before House Vote

I was part of a small number of bloggers and Internet writers invited to speak with Representative Joe Wilson (R, SC) Friday afternoon. Rep. Wilson wanted to alert us all to a resolution that would provide that all bills that go through the House of Representatives would be posted on the Internet for 72 hours prior to any possibility of a floor vote.

The Resolution is House Res. 554, amending the Rules of the House to require legislation and conference reports to be available on the Internet 72 hours before consideration. If this resolution is approved by the members of the House, all bills — including H.R. 3200, the House Healthcare bill — will be placed on the Internet for all to see for three days before the bill can be voted on.

In an email on this issue Wilson said, “Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have continually rushed major legislation to a vote to ensure little to no public scrutiny. If we succeed, Americans can finally separate fact from fiction.”

Under normal procedures, a resolution introduced must first go to a conference committee of one sort or another. But the House has a way to force a bill to skip the committee process and go right to the floor for a vote. As Representative Wilson explained the process is called a “discharge petition.”

What’s really important is the discharge petition. At the front of the House you’ll see every now and then we’ll be up there signing a little book and that’s a discharge petition. If 218 people (Representatives) sign the petition, this is a way to skip the committee process and bring the bill to the floor. With 218 signatures, this would force the speaker to bring the resolution to the floor.

“This is a great opportunity,” Wilson told me, “for the blogging community to contact all Democrats, all Republicans and urge them to sign the discharge petition.”

This particular petition is known as the Greg Walden discharge petition named after Representative Greg Walden (R, Oregon) who is sponsoring the petition.

Currently, 178 members of the House have already signed the petition and we all need to contact our Representatives to have them sign that petition. (The Clerk of the House has a webpage with all the signatories to the petition at currently posted.)

CNSNews’ Fred Lucas asked Rep. Wilson if he were the “right person” to become the face of this petition drive due to the recent “animosity” that Democrats have for Wilson. Wilson reminded us all that “a few years ago” he was voted the second friendliest member of Congress. Wilson was also gratified that even recently he has been characterized as a good friend by some members of Congress even after his actions at Obama’s speech.

I have in the past two weeks had a number of members of Congress and even at press conferences introduced me — and I think they meant it — as my good friend. Sometimes, you know, they don’t mean it.

Thus far it looks like five Democrats have signed the Walden discharge petition. Democratic Reps. Walt Minnick (Idaho), Brian Baird (Wash), Dan Boren (Okla.), Parker Griffith (Ala.) and Gene Taylor (Miss.) have signed.

This is certainly a non-partisan issue. Who could be against all bills being placed on line for 72 hours before a vote? “We’re also backing up what President Obama said during the campaign last year,” Wilson said.

Wilson also reminded us all that the president himself advocated for such an idea.”President Obama indicated that he would not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”

“So what we’re doing should not be considered as partisan, it shouldn’t be considered as a slap to the president because it’s not, it’s actually less than even what he campaign on,” Wilson said.

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