Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Afternoon News Dump

One thing I've recently been kicking around doing is going onto the website of the Library of Congress and looking up random bills in the pipeline. The theory here was that it's tougher to hide a bill by not mentioning it if someone could just call you out on it on a total whim.

Apparently the Senate is way ahead of me. Last night in the Senate, S. 716, scaling back the STOCK Act from last year- which required online disclosure of federal employee financial statements in order to combat insider trading- was introduced and passed in both houses of Congress by unanimous consent (meaning no recorded vote), and sent to President Obama, before the text of the bill could even make it online. The bill has garnered such lovely phrases as 'sweeping', 'taking a hatchet', and 'guts'. Basically, under the provisions of the STOCK Act, the files are produced on paper and copied into a PDF file. Under the bill now on Obama's desk, for everyone but the President, VP, Congress, Congressional  candidates and people subject to Senate confirmation- and there are trainloads of people in Washington who aren't in those categories, such as Congressional staffers- they could be produced on paper and then just filed in a basement somewhere, available to anyone who can physically travel to Washington DC, hunt down the correct basement and sift through all the paper files to find the one individual piece of paper in the entire world that has the information they're looking for. And that would still qualify as making it 'public'.

Of course it was passed on a Friday.

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