POLITICS

Any ‘fiscal cliff’ bill would violate GOP’s ’72 hour’ pledge

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With time running out, it remains unclear whether Republicans and Democrats will strike a deal to prevent the nation from sailing over the “fiscal cliff” in the new year. But one thing is for sure — if lawmakers push through a last minute deal tomorrow, Dec. 31,  it would violate the GOP’s pledge to post all legislation online at least 72 hours before a vote.

During the first two years of the Obama administration, Republicans were incensed as Democrats rammed through major legislation such as the economic stimulus package and the national health care law without allowing lawmakers and the public adequate opportunity to read and debate the legislation. In the 2010 midterms, Republicans vowed to usher in more transparency if they were to gain power.

“We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives,” read the GOP’s “Pledge to America,” released before the 2010 election. “No more hiding legislative language from the minority party, opponents, and the public. Legislation should be understood by all interested parties before it is voted on.”

John Boehner repeatedly echoed this pledge when Republicans were in the minority, but since taking over as House Speaker, he has disregarded it in high stakes battles. This is another reminder about how lofty campaign promises about transparency inevitably give way to the reality of Washington, no matter which party is in control.

To be sure, it’s theoretically possible that after January 1, all sides could reach a deal and allow 72 hours before a vote. But by that point, the nation will have already gone over the cliff. So, averting the cliff dive would require a violation of the pledge.

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