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Hotlining bills: ‘Hearings? We don’t need no stinkin’ hearings!’

What happens to the record of congress, public input, even roll-call votes when members of congress are given 15 minutes to object to a bill being automatically approved? Roll Call has the story:

Senate conservatives are upset that the leaders of both parties in the chamber have in recent years increasingly used a practice known as "hotlining" bills — previously used to quickly move noncontroversial bills or simple procedural motions — to pass complex and often costly legislation, in some cases with little or no public debate.

The increase was particularly noticeable just before the August recess, when leaders hotlined more than 150 bills, totaling millions of dollars in new spending, in a period of less than a week.

The practice has led to complaints from Members and watchdog groups alike that lawmakers are essentially signing off on legislation neither they nor their staff have ever read, often resulting in millions of dollars in new spending.

…According to the Library of Congress’ legislative database THOMAS, of the 399 bills or resolutions passed by the Senate this year — which range from recess adjournment resolutions to the Iraq War supplemental bill — only 29 have been approved by a roll-call vote. The rest have been moved via unanimous consent agreements, the vast majority of which were brokered using the hotline process.

(See also, just for fun, the Stinking Badges Home Page)


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