Making Government Operations More Open

One Bill = One Idea

One thing I find frustrating is that congress can pass a bill with "hidden" mini laws.

For example, congress recently passed a bill to reform credit card companies and it also included a provision allowing people to carry handguns into national parks. What? How do those two ideas relate?

Those items should have been two separate bills. I know politics is about compromise; but, I want congress debating the details of credit card reform and not slipping in a gun law so that they can get a few extra votes. This seems disingenuous.

Each bill should focus on one idea/concept/law. This only seems fair.


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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


  1. Comment

    I like this idea a lot. It may really clean up politics and decrease the pork barrel spending/ earmark projects that we see now, since those laws would no longer be able to hide in unrelated bills. Great idea!

  2. Comment

    Ditto, good idea. The congress couldn't say they didn't have time to read the bill.

  3. Comment

    This is something people have talked about for YEARS.

    However the republicans knocked it out during the Clinton years.

    Basicly it ticked them off because it would mean No chance of ear marking.

    If we want something like this to happen we need start a movement it would need a lot of people behind it.

    And support from The current administration.

    Contact Cnn and post a link to this page in all the search engines.

    Create a a page for it on myspace talking about it here honestly I see it getting tons of votes that lead to nothing.

    This entire website seems like a way for the current administration to say hey look we CARE blah blah change blah blah.

  4. Comment

    Amen to the idea, but I agree with ian, this is probably just a feel good website for folks disappointed with everything and Obama's not going to do anything with the iinfo at all, just delete it. Or take names and spy on the ones with anti corporate ideas.

  5. Comment

    This by itself would go a long way toward cleaning up the ear marking/pork barrel problem. No one could tuck in unrelated items that go along for the ride.

  6. Comment

    This idea is simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, Congress doesn't seem to like things which are simple and straightforward- if it's complex and confusing, they can hide behind it.

    I think this is a very, very valuable idea and I would like to see it happen. however, the cynic in me says it probably won't.

  7. Comment

    I noticed partison finger-pointing in the dialog here and I certainly hope we can keep this out of our work here. Otherwise, where will it end and what will we accomplish?

    This initiative seems to make sense and seems very non-partisan. How did we ever get so far off track as a nation as to have to HOPE for this? This should have always been and again - no finger pointing. United we stand - divided we fall.

    So far, we are falling.

  8. Comment

    DownsizeDC had this idea long ago, join them and you can help bring this change about. ere is a protion of their latest email to members:

    Quote of the Day: "Students of American history will recall that the important place where work gets done in the legislative body, almost without exception, is in the committees, more so than on the floor although sometimes more attention is paid to the floor." - Paul Sarbanes

    Subject: Common sense

    Each year the Iraq-Afghanistan spending bill comes loaded with extras that remind us how much we need the One Subject At A Time Act.

    Because few in Congress will vote against a bill that "supports the troops," this bill provides an opportunity for legislative abuse . . .

    Four years ago, the otherwise unpopular Real ID Act was attached to the Iraq bill and became law

    Last year, $95 billion in domestic spending was added to the Iraq bill in exchange for Democratic support for the warrantless spying and telecom immunity bill.

    The House and Senate conference committee will soon meet to work out differences in this year's bill. It is unknown what tricks they'll have up their sleeve, but the bill, H.R. 2346, is already bad enough. In addition to funding the wars, there is money for the BATFE, federal prisons, foreign aid, the War on Drugs, forest fire management, and other programs. The total price tag is over $900 per family.

    Downsize DC's proposed One Subject At A Time Act (OSTA) would prevent the bundling of these different topics into one bill. Instead, each subject would be voted on as a separate bill. Necessary bills will still pass, but unpopular measures won't. The country would be spared the cost of programs most members of Congress didn't want in the first place.

    If members of Congress had common sense, they would actually want to live under OSTA's constraints. Then they could vote for a reasonable and necessary bill without being forced to accept unnecessary, unrelated provisions. Whether the U.S. should fight these wars, and whether the federal government should provide more money for wildland fire management, are two completely unrelated questions. Members of Congress who support one but oppose the other shouldn't be forced to either accept both or reject both.

  9. Comment

    You're absolutely right. Our representatives are literally BARTERING with our lives. This is not right in so many ways.

  10. Comment

    Combining multiple "ideas" into one logical unit has been a method for giving power to political minorities in congress for a long time, as well as overcoming stalemates when one party controls the white house and the other controls congress.

    By packaging together things that match the agenda of more then one party, they can pass such laws past a usually unwilling executive, and thus support the rights of the minority. A flaw in democracy is that it allows the tyranny of a majority over a minority... packaging multiple items as one has helped prevent this over the years.

    There are more effective ways of dealing with pork barrel spending, ones that do not infringe on important democratic practices.

  11. Comment

    Regardless of the validity of this suggestion, it appears to be a duplicate of the more popular #195 by a Josh Senegal entitled: "Bills should stand alone -no earmarks -no pork" (

  12. Comment

    I totally agree with this idea, mrjstarr.

    What's worse is that often these "earmarks" are used as a way to bespoil legitimate legislation and make it less appealing when it comes on the floor for a vote.

    Did you know that the TARP bill included an earmark for makers of wooden arrows for kids? How many kids do you know who even USE wooden arrows, and how does money for these wooden arrow makers help stimulate the economy?

    I'm so tired of seeing random acts of legislation attached to legitimate legislation.

  13. Comment

    Its naive to think that this system will change simply because its a bad idea. This is how it works:

    If you want it bad enough, you will allow the riders to go through. If not, then the bill dies.

    Either way, it helps keep a cap on the number of ridiculous laws that get passed. Of course, if Congress or the President don't have a filter and don't care about the laws being passed, its moot anyway.

    It helps with the balance of power and the reasonable ways laws are being passed.

    I was initially against it, but I understand the reasoning behind it and changed my mind on the idea. This way, hopefully, either nothing gets done in Congress, or, at least, if things do get done, they're at a cost that must be weighed by the members of Congress.

  14. Comment

    Congress "weighs" nothing! They don't write the bills themselves, they don't read the bills themselves, they add "amendments" to the bill that none of the other members of congress bothers to read, and most often those "amendments" do not amend the bill because the amendments are things which are totally unrelated to the bill. When they "debate" the bill they don't come close to really debating it, nor are they concerned about unintended consequences or if it is even Constitutional. They vote on every bill depending on which Big interest gave them the most money and they vote in the way that interest wants them to vote, they don't give a damn about how their constituents feel about it. Witness the bailouts under both Bush and O, their calls and emails from constituents (according to my so-called "representative" in the House) were 50% "NO!" and 50% "HELL NO!", but he (and almost all the rest) voted yes, anyway.

    Passing the three bills put up by DownsizeDC, and one introduced by Ron Paul, would help, immensely, those bills are:

    The Write the Bills Act, which would allow only members of Congress to write a bill.

    The One Subject at a Time Act, which addresses the issue we are discussing.

    The Read the Bills Act, which would force EVERY member of Congress to have read the bill before voting on it.

    Rep. Paul's bill would require that every piece of legislation introduced to Congress have the exact portion of the Constitution which authorizes the central government to do what the bill covers cited in the bill. It of course is intended to prevent future un-Constitutional laws from being passed. No one has yet introduced a bill to wipe all previous un-Constitutional legislation from the books, but someone surely should!

  15. Comment

    How did our Federal Government get so far out of whack? The answer: slowly, over many administrations, through many politician's. and through endless, underlying greed.

    Most of Congress is despicable today! I'm so thankful when I look at the one man trying to stand up the all the fraud - Ron Paul. It's unfortunate that so many of us where unaware of what he really stood for earlier.