Steve Russell: Taking cheap shots at the legislative process

Steve Russell discusses what goes on behind the scenes when governments, including tribes, make laws:
Cheap shots have been taken at the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—on the ground that most of the Congress that voted for it never read it. The shot is true. What makes it cheap is ignorance.

Cheap shots were taken within my tribal government at former Principal Chief Chad Smith because, working on a law drafting project for the tribe as a young lawyer, he started with a photocopy of the Oklahoma law on the same subject. As best I can tell without asking Smith directly, the shot is true but, again, what makes it cheap is ignorance.

People who serve in legislative bodies—federal, state, tribal---seldom read what they vote on and virtually never write the bills they drop into the legislative sausage machine.

What, pray tell, would be the point of a legislative floor debate when no amendments are offered? OK, there are cases, such as treaty ratification, where all that is on the table is an up or down vote, but it’s most often the case that a legislator who is perturbed by some oversight or down side in a bill can make the problem go away with a minor change.

Like all process, amendments are subject to abuse. The Affordable Care Act was loaded up with Republican amendments in the Senate to attract Republican votes, but the Republican votes were an illusion. GOP opposition to the bill was about opposition to any national health care plan and anything that might make Barack Obama look like a real president. Those objections cannot be cured by amendment.

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Steve Russell: Why Nobody in Congress Reads the Laws They Pass (Indian Country Today 1/4)

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