I have a tiny bit of sympathy – several molecules – for members of Congress suddenly being forced to admit that they read only a small fraction of the legislation before them. Constituents probably ought to cut their representatives a small bit of slack; members of Congress don’t necessarily have to read every bill that renames a post office or recognizes “National Whatever Month,” and other largely symbolic resolutions.
But not reading massive, major, far-reaching bills like health care or cap-and-trade is inexcusable. Also note that if the lawmakers facing incredulous, frustrated constituents really feel like they’re in a jam, they can point out that the House Speaker and Majority Leader set the respective schedules in the chambers.
Rep. David Wu of Oregon found himself in a jam recently — when a constituent said to him, “I expect them to read bills that they are voting on and if they cannot at the time, then I expect them to vote ‘no’ or abstain . . . This is irresponsible, and if you don’t think you can do that, perhaps this is not the line of work you should be in, if you can’t handle that workload.”
“I have to follow my conscience,” Wu replied.