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Members of Congress Don’t Believe It’s Their Job To Read Bills They Pass

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The $560 billion 2015 National Defense Authorization Act passed Congress recently, and the details of the bill have military families worried. In addition to the usual appropriations for aircraft, tanks, and buildings, the bill includes funding for fighting military sexual trauma and conducting various research studies, but it cuts service members pay and benefits.

One would hope that members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees carefully read the half-trillion-dollar bill to be sure that nothing was amiss. However, members of Congress admit that they did not read the bill before passing it.

The 2015 NDAA has been the source of much speculation over the past year, especially as sequestration cuts continue to cause problems for military programs. In recent weeks, the detailed pay and benefits cuts have military families concerned about making ends meet and angry at being a constant fiscal target.

In an agreement reached between both houses of Congress, service members will once again be receiving a cost-of-living pay raise that doesn’t cover the increase in the cost of living. For the second year in a row, military members will receive a one percent pay increase.

The bill actually contains a 1.8 percent increase. However, it allows President Obama to negate this and move ahead with his desired one percent raise instead.

General and Flag Officers will not receive a pay raise for FY2015. Currently, Congress is reviewing cuts to General and Flag Officer pensions and other lavish perks as well.

Military members will also see a reduction in their housing allowance, though not as large as originally expected. Congress agreed to a one percent decrease, instead of the originally planned five percent. Thanks to rate protections that keep military members from getting hit with shrinking allowances while having to cover rent on existing leases, however, the new rates will apply to members upon transferring to a new duty station.

Service members and their families are also facing higher out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions filled at civilian pharmacies. The bill mandates a $3 increase in prescription co-pays ever year for the next 10 years. This is in addition to changes that military members were warned about earlier this year from Tricare.

Beneficiaries were informed that unless they changed to the Tricare Standard plan with its higher out-of-pocket costs and civilian providers, they would automatically be changed to military treatment facilities and their civilian doctors would be notified that they would need a referral from the military to continue treatment. This change was to have occurred last month, but problems have delayed its rollout. When this change will be implemented is unclear.

The bill also cuts funding to the Commissary, the military’s version of the supermarket that many military families depend on to keep food on the table.

The bill does provide some protection for the much-loved A10 Warthog aircraft, which was slated for retirement. However, thanks to the efforts of Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), flight and maintenance time will be reduced, but the aircraft will remain in active service.

There were a number of other, non-military “pork” provisions in the bill, including the designation of new National Parks and Corridors, and several land deals with Native American tribes. These pork provisions are slated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but attempts to remove them were rejected by the majority of lawmakers.

But when asked if members of Congress had read the bill ... Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said, 'Of course not. Are you kidding?'
One deal in particular garnered attention when it became known that it would take 2,500 acres of land sacred to the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona and give it to an international mining company, essentially cutting tribal members off from their ancestral ceremonial lands.

With so much riding on this 1,600-page bill, the smallest detail could cost millions of dollars. But when asked if members of Congress had read the bill before passing it, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said, “Of course not. Are you kidding?”

Moran drew public scorn earlier this year for saying that members of Congress were underpaid and couldn’t live decently in Washington.

He went on to say that he would not read the bill because he trusted “the leadership.” When asked if leadership had read the bill, Moran replied, “I know their staff has.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also indirectly admitted that the bill hadn’t been read before it was passed. Hoyer reasoned that because the bill had been through committee and conference and because he had an outline of what was in it, he didn’t need to read the entire bill.

There is no reason why the bill couldn’t have been read by members of Congress. The entire text of the bill was available to both lawmakers and the public three days before the vote to pass it, as was promised in 2010 when Republicans took control of the House.

Photo Credit: M DOGAN / shutterstock.com

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437 comments
Patricia Evans Weesner
Patricia Evans Weesner

Then bills should be Mandated to be small enough that the Senators and Congressmen and women WILL read it. Not reading the bills they vote on is IRRESPONSIBLE!!!

Pat Gravel
Pat Gravel

What the hell do they think we pay them for?

Debi Meeds-Parker
Debi Meeds-Parker

need to be a law that they have to read every bill before it can be passed

Jamie Newman Sr.
Jamie Newman Sr.

Of course not. That would mean they are actually doing their job. They aren't there to work. Just for the benefits and the retirement.

Maurice Clemens
Maurice Clemens

Unbelievable! What do they think their jobs are? Just raising money for the party?

FrancesBarbaraFraser
FrancesBarbaraFraser

My first comment is that it would be nice if we all read bills but we cannot.I always understood that those people we vote for in our many forms off government

Brad Fincher
Brad Fincher

This is why the line item veto was important. I don't think it ever got passed for the same reason.

Sherry A McClellan
Sherry A McClellan

They never do...they have "people" who do that & report back to them. And, about "reducing their benefits"?...They make the rules, give themselves raises, etc...& never do any work for their constituents, after they're voted in. It's ALL about them, doncha know?

Ronnie Richardson
Ronnie Richardson

who the hells job is it? we elected these idiots to protect us not there political ambitions !!!!!!

Pat Hundley
Pat Hundley

It is their responsibility to READ all of the bills that come before them. That is what their JOB is , didn't anybody explain that to them?

Ernie Wheeler
Ernie Wheeler

You don't have to when you can walk on water!!!!

Trey Green
Trey Green

Oh Hell,That's what staffers are for!

David Shea Westerkamp
David Shea Westerkamp

These dildo's only work half a year, so it's not like they don't have the time.

Angelo Vega
Angelo Vega

I DONT BELIEVE IN TERM LIMITS BECAUSE IF HE OR SHE IS GOOD I WANT THEM FOR AS LONG AS THEY WANT THE JOB!!!!

Angelo Vega
Angelo Vega

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS NEED TO HAVE WORK PERFORMANCES, IF THEY DO POORLY IN WRITING AND PASSING USEFUL LEGISLATION THEY LOSE THEIR JOB!!!!! HOWS THAT?!!!!

Jennifer Trent
Jennifer Trent

I don't really believe most members of congress CAN read.

John A. Schneiter
John A. Schneiter

If they are not Writing them, then reading them.. Then they are not running the Government. Whomever is, is actually running it... So Who is writing our laws???

Tony Johnson
Tony Johnson

VOTE FROM YOUR PHONE!!! A bill summary comes to your phone.....you enter your SSN and click 1 for yes and 2 for no....Jus thinking of ways to live without politicians.......OR if you are paranoid....use a PIN.....it works on American Idol....jus a thought

Pete Davis
Pete Davis

if you do not read it then you cannot vote on it and that is a good idea put a cut to their pay and benefits and see if it will go through unread !

Gloria Anstine
Gloria Anstine

i say fired every one that does not do their job that we the people elected them to do that includes reading these bills before signing them.You idiots think all your job is about doing nothing.

Tim Sturm
Tim Sturm

There is hardly anyone who read the Obama care bill thu it's entirity.

Sean O'Neill
Sean O'Neill

It should be a law that they read the freakin bills. Disgusting

Richard Gill
Richard Gill

Hell, Obama didn't really know what was in it either. But he didn't care, it would only affect the little people. Get rid of the bums.

Sam Levi
Sam Levi

Any attorney wanting to stay in business does, but your point is what?

David Rayome
David Rayome

Sam, you're part of the problem. You think lawyers don't read contracts for their clients?

David Rayome
David Rayome

Yet nothing will change. THATS the real tragedy.