The public does not have real time access to bills and amendments as they are considered on the Senate floor. This week, Demand Progress, Lincoln Network, and a coalition of 41 other organizations and 15 experts sent a letter to Senate leadership requesting the Senate publish bills and amendments online while they are still under consideration.
Currently, the most comprehensive public source for floor bills and amendments is the Congressional Record, which is an after-the-fact compilation of what happened in Congress and is published daily when the Congress is in session. After-the-fact publication is often insufficient to allow the public to weigh in when a matter is under consideration. It also undermines coverage by the press and deprives members of Congress of the tools necessary to understand extensive legislation.
Existing internal Senate publication practices are insufficient to meet the needs of the Senate and virtually guarantee unequal access to Senate information that favors the wealthy and well-connected. It also prevents the Senate from developing tools comparable to those that exist in the House that make it easier for senators to understand what they are considering.
The coalition urges lawmakers to ensure that the text of bills and amendments are available online while they are under consideration and that archival versions of the bills and amendments are available online in improved formats that allow for greater understanding of congressional practices. Transparency is a key aspect of democratic legitimacy and a functioning legislative branch. We strongly encourage the Senate to modernize its practices.