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October 3, 2007

Open Congress

I like Open Congress. This group has now created a widget that you can place on your blog or other website to follow automatically the progress of a bill that you care about. I can't really use the widget right now, because the legislation that interests me most is Rep. George Miller's proposal for a renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act. Mr. Miller is the House leader on education, so what he puts in the bill that he actually introduces will be very influential. But right now there is much debate and advocacy going on, and I don't think Mr. Miller has yet introduced a bill. He has, instead, floated various draft documents. Those drafts cannot be tracked by something like Open Congress.

This situation underlines a limit with any accountability mechanism that focuses on bills and votes. An enormous amount of what Congress does happens before a bill is introduced--or squashed. This is also where most special-interest pressure is exerted. I have no reason to think that special interests are influencing Mr. Miller on NCLB; if anything, he seems to be annoying all the major players. But the time when openness is most important and hardest to obtain is before a bill is introduced.

October 3, 2007 12:59 PM | category: none


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