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house Bill H.R. 160

Should Each Bill in Congress Only Address One Subject?

Argument in favor

For the sake of transparency, members of Congress need to stop writing and passing bills that address multiple unrelated policy issues. Multi-subject bills may deceptively include policies that lawmakers and the public overlook because of misleading titles.

Poli.Sci's Opinion
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03/09/2019
As a country, we cannot move legislation forward by giving concessions within legislation. For instance, a farm bill that helps clarify the types of pesticides to be used on crops should not have funding for Planned Parenthood in it. Those are obviously very different subjects and this country needs to stop putting different subjects and topics of legislation into one legislation. If we cannot pass one legislation for the sole purpose of its title, than the state of affairs for our Legislative Branch is in a sore state indeed. Please pass this. It will make your jobs easier by far and you will not be held in question amongst your constituents for passing something your ideology does not line-up with in the first place.
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IllWill's Opinion
···
03/09/2019
Every piece of legislation should be voted on based on its merits alone. Members of Congress should not be forced to vote for terrible bills that have been combined with other legislation that is worthwhile or that needs to pass. This kind of practice is why many Americans hate Washington politics.
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03/09/2019
Our Constitution starts with the words “We the People.” But so much of the legislation that affects the lives of the American people today is written in language almost none of us has the time or ability to understand. It’s as if the bills were written in some secret code understood only by insiders. The only way to ensure a more informed and engaged public – and more informed and engaged members of Congress – is to simplify and shorten that secret code so it’s no longer secret.
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Argument opposed

It’s not practical to expect Congress to only introduce bills that deal with one subject area, they only have a finite amount of time in session and need to address a wide variety of policies. Combining unrelated, unobjectionable bills saves time.

Mike's Opinion
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03/09/2019
If this was so important to republicans then why didn’t they introduce it when they controlled the house? This is an attempt to sound good but all it does is to tie up the process and slow the Democrats agenda.
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Dave's Opinion
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03/09/2019
Each bill or joint resolution introduced in Congress to embrace only one subject? This would slow down the process in government, not good, also somethings would not get light of day, that are in the best interest of American people, It force Bipartisanship give and take. The devil in the details. A typical move by the republicans to kill democracy and only push their agenda, which could work both ways. Republicans say there not get enough money politics. What needs to be done is all bills get to the floor of the house and senate, in an open format, able to be viewed by the public and every vote is ID as how there representative vote on the spot. People need to know if their representatives and all the representatives are voting in the public interest, Transparency. Some how this needs to be followed and part of Schools actives to bring awareness of the political process. I am starting to think if only republicans support it, it’s bad for the America people!
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Willard's Opinion
···
03/10/2019
Such a bill should require that all elements of the bill be reasonably related so that the bill is a coherent and cohesive whole, riders and amendments included. Nothing which is clearly unrelated to the bill should be included.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 160?

This bill would require each bill or joint resolution introduced in Congress to embrace only one subject, and that subject must be descriptively expressed in the legislation’s title. Aggrieved persons and members of Congress would have the right to sue the U.S. to seek relief, including an injunction, against the enforcement of a law passed in a manner that didn’t conform with the one subject requirement.

Appropriations bills would be prohibited from containing any general legislation or including any change of existing law requirements if the subject of a provision isn’t germane to the appropriation bill’s subject.

Legislation that meets the following criteria would be declared void:

  • An entire Act or joint resolution if its title addresses two or more unrelated subjects;

  • Provisions in legislation not clearly and descriptively expressed in the measure’s title;

  • Appropriation provisions in legislation outside the relevant subcommittee’s jurisdiction;

  • Provisions of appropriation bills not germane to their subject matter.

Impact

The American public; Congressional staffers; and members of Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 160

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress as part of a package of anti-corruption legislation intended to significantly reform Congress and increase executive branch accountability and transparency:

“It is an honor to represent and serve the people of Bucks and Montgomery counties in the 116th Congress. I look forward to serving as their independent voice in Washington during a time when our citizens face a dysfunctional, hyper-partisan, and broken Washington. I believe that these ideas introduced today transcend political parties and strike at the heart of what our country needs: a rebirth of belief in our leaders and institutions so we can tackle the challenges we face and accomplish great things in this new era. Transparency and unimpeachable integrity are essential to a government that truly serves the people of the United States. This anti-corruption legislation will help restore the American’s people’s faith in Congress and hold public officials accountable."

Sponsoring Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) introduced this bill in the 115th Congress to increase transparency in the lawmaking process by requiring that Congress only address one subject in a given piece of legislation:

“For too long, the legislative branch has failed to address legislative priorities in a transparent manner. Congress has habitually passed large, must-pass bills at the last minute. Loosely related and controversial provisions are frequently attached to these bills under pressure from outside organizations, who know that their best chance to address pet projects is a must-pass bill. Such provisions ride the host legislation like a parasite, forcing members of Congress to either accept a pyrrhic victory by taking the good with the bad, or reject it outright at the expense of the good. The American people deserve better from their elected officials. My bill would require Congress to consider only one subject per bill or resolution. Every legislative provision would be forced to stand on its own two legs, rather than hitching a ride on a stronger host, and make its case to the American people.”
This bill has been introduced in multiple consecutive Congresses, starting with the 113th Congress (2013-2014), where it was introduced by Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) with the support of two Republican cosponsors. Last Congress, this bill was introduced by Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) with the support of 27 Republican cosponsors. DownsizeDC has also historically supported this bill.

Of Note: According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 41 states have provisions within their state constitutions that require bills in their legislature to only deal with a single subject. There are also 15 states that require initiatives to only cover a single subject to receive a spot on the ballot.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Circa Sassy / Creative Commons)

AKA

CLEAN Congress Act

Official Title

To prohibit a single bill or joint resolution presented by Congress to the President from containing multiple subjects and to require the equal application of laws to Members of Congress.

    As a country, we cannot move legislation forward by giving concessions within legislation. For instance, a farm bill that helps clarify the types of pesticides to be used on crops should not have funding for Planned Parenthood in it. Those are obviously very different subjects and this country needs to stop putting different subjects and topics of legislation into one legislation. If we cannot pass one legislation for the sole purpose of its title, than the state of affairs for our Legislative Branch is in a sore state indeed. Please pass this. It will make your jobs easier by far and you will not be held in question amongst your constituents for passing something your ideology does not line-up with in the first place.
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    If this was so important to republicans then why didn’t they introduce it when they controlled the house? This is an attempt to sound good but all it does is to tie up the process and slow the Democrats agenda.
    Like (42)
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    I have suggested for 15+ years that only one piece of legislation should be presented at a time without stacking or hiding other unrelated legislation in it. Each individual bill should pass on its own merits and be required to also pass an ethics review. It also should be written, such that it does not benefit special interests, or Corporations. It must be FOR THE PEOPLE; a benefit for, or a protection from nefarious groups or corporations or special interests. CURIOUS WHY THERE IS NO BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR THIS BILL. That is a concern when a Bill is presented from a party that is know for their unethical or nefarious, inhumane, oppression against The People.
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    Every piece of legislation should be voted on based on its merits alone. Members of Congress should not be forced to vote for terrible bills that have been combined with other legislation that is worthwhile or that needs to pass. This kind of practice is why many Americans hate Washington politics.
    Like (96)
    Follow
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    Our Constitution starts with the words “We the People.” But so much of the legislation that affects the lives of the American people today is written in language almost none of us has the time or ability to understand. It’s as if the bills were written in some secret code understood only by insiders. The only way to ensure a more informed and engaged public – and more informed and engaged members of Congress – is to simplify and shorten that secret code so it’s no longer secret.
    Like (78)
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    The side deals to (more or less), bribe a vote to favor a bill MUST stop. ‘I’ll vote for your bill about corn, if you add a paragraph favoring manufacturing of tires...’. Thankfully, the Average American Voter, (AAV), is more attuned to the games representatives play with bills/laws. The AAV is saying #enough.
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    I think this is the second time I’ve responded to this bill. Bills under consideration in Congress should not have unrelated bills attached to them. The use of attaching special interest bills in particular for the purpose of gaining support for that bill, or another bill, pet project or a special need for another legislator has been a long tradition in Congress as a negotiating tool. I have no objection to such a use, but the negotiated bill should fall within the parameters of the bill to which it is attached. I think shortcuts like these are partly a result of the out-of-all- proportions lobbying and fundraising demands placed on legislators because they can shorten negotiating time. Their use, which used to be a sort of “last resort”, has become ubiquitous. (It would be interesting to see a historical study of this.) All votes in Congress should clarify for the American people exactly what their representatives are supporting and why.
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    👍🏻👍🏻 H.R.160 AKA the CLEAN Congress Act 👍🏻👍🏻 I’m in support of and recommend the passage of the House bill H.R. 160 AKA the CLEAN Congress Act which would require each bill or joint resolution introduced in Congress to embrace only one subject, and that subject must be descriptively expressed in the legislation’s title.  Aggrieved persons and members of Congress would have the right to sue the U.S. to seek relief, including an injunction, against the enforcement of a law passed in a manner that didn’t conform with the one subject requirement. For the sake of transparency, members of Congress need to stop writing and passing bills that address multiple unrelated policy issues. Multi-subject bills may deceptively include policies that lawmakers and the public overlook because of misleading titles. SneakyPete......... 👍🏻HR160👍🏻. 3*9*19..........
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    Finally, a bill we all should be able to agree on. The days of “riders” are numbered.
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    So much gets past that nobody even knows about because they cram it or hide it in other legislation. We shouldn’t have legislation that we have to pass to figure out what is in it. Congress has become more about deception than about transparency. Government has become too obtrusive into our lives. We don’t need to pass bills just to pass bills. And we we don’t need bills just to satisfy a certain group. It should be something that is good for the whole country.
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    Absolutely! Congress is slimy, the members sneak in tons of pork, riders, pet projects that have nothing to do with the act itself. So now a president that wants A either vetoes it and loses, or he signs it and the corruption continues!! The line item is essential! Courts say unconstitutional. If so, congress must be more, wait just, transparent!
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    Absolutely! No “gifts“ included to buy a vote, either! Already waaaay too much waste of OUR HARD-EARNED MONEY! We are not your piggy bank - you piggies! Good one, John! Janay, too! Awesome, Joseph! If it takes longer, so be it! They are only working on our agenda half the day, right now. The other half, they spend (on our dime) seeing Lobbyists or calling supporters! Perhaps, we’d get a full day out of them, then. They can do their lobbying and campaigning on their OWN TIME. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
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    Please let each bill address only one issue
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    Is this bill being introduced as a free-standing bill or, as in the 115th Congress, is it part of a package of bills. I rarely agree with Republicans. This bill makes sense, but I suspect there is another motive behind it. The Republican Cult is about control and suppression, not voter knowledge and involvement.
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    Stop pork barrel bills
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    Yes it should but we all know that this likely won’t pass; lobbyists and cronyism from crooked politicians like Adam Schiff will water it down or kill it. But maybe when Republicans retake the house we will see this bill reintroduced. #MAGA
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    For a long time now politicians have been able to hide something bad with something good to try to pass the bad or try to make the good not pass. For a long time now this is skewed our perspective of our representatives voting record not knowing whether or not are representative phone for something bad or voted for something good regardless of the bad. We hear the excuse of I had to vote for that because I wanted to pass this we never know what side they're really on. We need to know where are representative stand.
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    Yes! See how easy that was? No hidden things tacked on, no hidden agendas. Now can we require a waiting period to read the damn things?
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    Yes! 41 states already have the one topic per bill rule in their own constitutions. The federal government should as well. It is absolutely ridiculous the way this can be abused in the federal government.
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    Yes! That way you wouldn’t end up with so many 2,000 page bills that no one reads or understands. Plus, you’d know exactly where Reps stood on each issue.
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