Three Republican senators pointed out today that the Senate is moving to vote on gun legislation that the lawmakers haven’t actually read.
“It is expected that the Toomey-Manchin provision announced yesterday will replace the current language regarding background checks. Yet, as of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a joint statement today. “Because the background-check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation it is critical that we know what is in the bill before we vote on it.”
Sixty-eight senators voted to debate the as-yet unseen bill. “Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60 vote threshold,” the trio said. “We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it.”
There’s analogy here between the gun bill and the immigration legislation headed to the Senate next week. Both were negotiated by a private bipartisan team, so most of the Senate has not read the legislation. In the case of the immigration bill, there will be one hearing next week.
“A single hearing scheduled so quickly to discuss legislative language that is not yet even available is completely inadequate for Senators or the American people to get answers to the many questions a bill of this magnitude will inevitably raise,” Lee said in a statement on the immigration bill yesterday. “We could not possibly have a meaningful hearing with a substantive discussion of what will surely be over 1,000 pages of provisions we haven’t even yet seen.”
As then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said during the Obamacare debate, you have to pass the bill to see what’s in it.