Reading before Voting in the House: Why “Read the Bill” Acts Fail
Dr. Jeff Polet, Political Science
Representation is a cornerstone of American democracy, and the House of Representatives embodies this best by voting bills into law on behalf of their constituents. Members of Congress have previously introduced legislation that would require Members to read the full text of a bill prior to voting in order to increase accountability and representation of the voters, but these bills have never progressed in either chamber nor drawn much public attention. This paper asks whether Members of the House need to read bills in their entirety by examining public opinion, voting behavior, and incumbency rates. A comparative case study between Representative Bill Huizenga (MI-02) and Representative Justin Amash (MI-03) will serve to supplement the study as the latter fully read all bills before voting in his first term. The purpose of this paper is to determine if it is necessary for Members to read bills before voting on them in the House of Representatives in order to best represent the residents of their districts. This study concludes by raising questions on the ethics of governmental representation of voters.
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