Archives: March, 2010

Sunlight Before Signing Update—and a First!

When I last reported on Sunlight Before Signing—President Obama’s promise to post bills online for five days before signing them—the administration had begun to rack up the wins. Of the 13 bills he signed in December, five had received the Sunlight Before Signing treatment.

Alas, since January, only one of the 18 bills subject to the promise has gotten the online exposure the president promised. (That was H.R. 1377/P.L. 111-137, a bill dealing with reimbursement of veterans for services they receive at non-V.A. facilities.)

It’s an unfortunate slow-down from the heady days when the president’s SBS batting average rocketed from a dismal .009 to .048. The president’s current Sunlight Before Signing average is only slightly improved at .049 (7 for 142).

The average could have risen quite nicely. Eight bills were post office renamings that sat at the White House for more than five days anyway. It was just a matter of posting them on Whitehouse.gov. True: these aren’t important bills, but the Sunlight Before Signing promise was simply to post all bills. The American people could benefit from seeing the “unimportant” work of Congress and the president along with the important.

There was one interesting development in SBS since I last reported: we saw a bill go through that was not subject to the Sunlight Before Signing promise.

S. 2949/P.L. 111-127 provided additional funds to the U.S. Repatriation Program in light of the disaster in Haiti. That money was for getting people out of harm’s way, and waiting five days to release the funds would have kept people in physical peril. It was ”emergency” legislation, which President Obama sensibly excluded from the five-day waiting period of Sunlight Before Signing.

(By contrast, H.R. 4462/P.L. 111-126—which accelerated tax deductability of contributions for Haiti—was about an emergency, but not emergency legislation itself: changing the tax treatment of charitable contributions would only indirectly affect people’s physical safety, health, etc.)

More than a year into the current administration, we’ve seen the contours of the Sunlight Before Signing promise. We’ve seen the White House make a good run at fulfilling the promise. But in the early months of this year, we haven’t seen much more actual execution.

When the president does follow through on Sunlight Before Signing, it will be a simple but important service to the millions of Americans who might get a better idea of how the government works and what it does. It will also fulfill a campaign promise.

Below is the latest Sunlight Before Signing chart:

Public Law Date Presented Date Signed Five Days? Posted (Linked)? Posted Five Days?
P.L. 111-2, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 1/28/2009 1/29/2009 No 1/29/2009* No
P.L. 111-3, The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 2/4/2009 2/4/2009 No (2/1/2009)* No
P.L. 111-4, The DTV Delay Act 2/9/2009 2/11/2009 No 2/5/2009* Yes †
P.L. 111-5, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 2/16/2009 2/17/2009 No (2/13/2009)* No
P.L. 111-6, Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2009, and for other purposes 3/6/2009 3/6/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-7, A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2105 East Cook Street in Springfield, Illinois, as the “Colonel John H. Wilson, Jr. Post Office Building” 2/26/09 3/9/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-8, The Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 3/11/2009 3/11/2009 No (3/5/2009)* No
P.L. 111-9, To extend certain immigration programs 3/18/2009 3/20/2009 No (3/19/2009)* No
P.L. 111-10, To provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 3/19/2009 3/20/2009 No (3/19/2009)* No
P.L. 111-11, The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 3/30/2009 3/30/2009 No (3/27/2009)* No
P.L. 111-12, The Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2009 3/24/2009 3/30/2009 Yes (3/24/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-13, The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act 4/20/2009 4/21/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-14, To designate the United States courthouse under construction at 327 South Church Street, Rockford, Illinois, as the “Stanley J. Roszkowski United States Courthouse” 4/14/2009 4/23/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-15, The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Act of 2009 4/14/2009 4/24/2009 Yes (3/27/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-16, The Statutory Time-Periods Technical Amendments Act of 2009 4/30/2009 5/7/2009 Yes (4/29/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-17, A joint resolution providing for the appointment of David M. Rubenstein as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 4/28/2009 5/7/2009 Yes (4/23/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-18, A bill to repeal section 10(f) of Public Law 93-531, commonly known as the “Bennett Freeze” 4/28/2009 5/8/2009 Yes (4/23/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-19, The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 4/30/2009 5/12/2009 Yes (4/29/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-20, The Protecting Incentives for the Adoption of Children with Special Needs Act of 2009 5/5/2009 5/15/2009 Yes (5/5/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-21, The FERA 5/19/2009 5/20/2009 No (5/15/2009)* No
P.L. 111-22, The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 5/20/2009 5/22/2009 No (5/20/2009)* No
P.L. 111-23, The Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 5/21/2009 5/22/2009 No 5/14/2009* No
P.L. 111-24, The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 5/20/2009 5/22/2009 No 5/15/2009* No
P.L. 111-25, The Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act 5/21/2009 6/2/2009 Yes (5/28/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-26, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 12877 Broad Street in Sparta, Georgia, as the “Yvonne Ingram-Ephraim Post Office Building” 6/9/2009 6/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-27, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 300 East 3rd Street in Jamestown, New York, as the “Stan Lundine Post Office Building” 6/9/2009 6/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-28, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 103 West Main Street in McLain, Mississippi, as the “Major Ed W. Freeman Post Office” 6/9/2009 6/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-29, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3245 Latta Road in Rochester, New York, as the “Brian K. Schramm Post Office Building” 6/9/2009 6/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-30, The Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004 Extension Act 6/19/2009 6/19/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-31, The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act 6/16/2009 6/22/2009 Yes (6/12/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-32, The Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009 6/19/2009 6/24/2009 Yes (5/20/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-33, The Native American Heritage Day Act of 2009 6/16/2009 6/26/2009 Yes (6/16/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-34, To designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 306 East Main Street in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, as the “J. Herbert W. Small Federal Building and United States Courthouse” 6/19/2009 6/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-35, To designate the Federal building located at 799 United Nations Plaza in New York, New York, as the “Ronald H. Brown United States Mission to the United Nations Building” 6/19/2009 6/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-36, The Webcaster Settlement Act of 2009 6/19/2009 6/30/2009 Yes (6/19/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-37, The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009 6/25/2009 6/30/2009 Yes (6/25/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-38, A bill to provide additional personnel authorities for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction 6/24/2009 6/30/2009 Yes (6/19/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-39, To make technical corrections to the Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes 6/26/2009 7/1/2009 Yes (6/26/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-40, A bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (”WASP”) 6/24/2009 7/1/2009 Yes (6/29/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-41, The Korean War Veterans Recognition Act 7/27/2009 7/27/2009 No (7/25/2009)* No
P.L. 111-42, Approving the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003, and for other purposes 7/27/2009 7/28/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-43, A bill to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 7/30/2009 7/31/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-44, The New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Act 7/27/2009 8/7/2009 Yes (7/27/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-45, To authorize the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to use funds made available under the Trademark Act of 1946 for patent operations in order to avoid furloughs and reductions-in-force, and for other purposes 7/27/2009 8/7/2009 Yes (7/27/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-46, To restore sums to the Highway Trust Fund, and for other purposes 8/4/2009 8/7/2009 No (8/5/09) No
P.L. 111-47, Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program 8/6/2009 8/7/2009 No (8/5/2009) No
P.L. 111-48, The Miami Dade College Land Conveyance Act 7/31/2009 8/12/2009 Yes (7/31/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-49, The Judicial Survivors Protection Act of 2009 8/3/2009 8/12/2009 Yes (8/5/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-50, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 46-02 21st Street in Long Island City, New York, as the “Geraldine Ferraro Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-51, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 601 8th Street in Freedom, Pennsylvania, as the “John Scott Challis, Jr. Post Office” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-52, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2351 West Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach, Florida, as the “Elijah Pat Larkins Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-53, The Utah Recreational Land Exchange Act of 2009 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes (8/11/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-54, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 41 Purdy Avenue in Rye, New York, as the “Caroline O’Day Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-55, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 431 State Street in Ogdensburg, New York, as the “Frederic Remington Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-56, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 123 11th Avenue South in Nampa, Idaho, as the “Herbert A Littleton Postal Station” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-57, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1300 Matamoros Street in Laredo, Texas, as the “Laredo Veterans Post Office” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-58, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 702 East University Avenue in Georgetown, Texas, as the “Kyle G. West Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-59, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 19190 Cochran Boulevard FRNT in Port Charlotte, Florida, as the “Lieutenant Commander Roy H. Boehm Post Office Building” 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-60, To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes (8/11/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-61, Recognizing the service, sacrifice, honor, and professionalism of the Noncommissioned Officers of the United States Army 8/11/2009 8/19/2009 Yes (8/11/09) No ‡
P.L. 111-62, A joint resolution granting the consent and approval of Congress to amendments made by the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the District of Columbia to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Regulation Compact 8/7/2009 8/19/2009 Yes (8/7/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-63, The WIPA and PABSS Reauthorization Act of 2009 9/10/2009 9/18/2009 Yes (9/10/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-64, A joint resolution providing for the appointment of France A. Cordova as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 9/11/2009 9/18/2009 Yes (9/11/09) No ‡
P.L. 111-65, To provide for the award of a gold medal on behalf of Congress to Arnold Palmer in recognition of his service to the Nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf 9/21/2009 9/30/2009 Yes (9/21/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-66, To provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 9/30/2009 9/30/2009 No (9/30/2009) No
P.L. 111-67, The Defense Production Act Reauthorization of 2009 9/24/2009 9/30/2009 Yes (9/24/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-68, The Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2010 9/30/2009 10/1/2009 No (10/1/2009)
and
(10/23/09)
No
P.L. 111-69, The Fiscal Year 2010 Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act 9/30/2009 10/1/2009 Yes (9/30/2009) No
P.L. 111-70, To amend the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 to reauthorize the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy 9/30/2009 10/9/2009 Yes (10/1/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-71, To amend the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 to extend by one year the operation of Radio Free Asia, and for other purposes 9/30/2009 10/9/2009 Yes (10/1/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-72, To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to delay the date on which the accreditation requirement under the Medicare Program applies to suppliers of durable medical equipment that are pharmacies 10/7/2009 10/13/2009 Yes (10/7/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-73, The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 10/5/2009 10/15/2009 Yes (10/2/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-74, To designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at McKinley Avenue and Third Street, SW., Canton, Ohio, as the “Ralph Regula Federal Building and United States Courthouse” 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-75, To designate the United States courthouse located at 525 Magoffin Avenue in El Paso, Texas, as the “Albert Armendariz, Sr., United States Courthouse” 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-76, To provide for the transfer of certain Federal Property to the Galveston Historical Foundation 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes (10/7/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-77, To designate the Federal building located at 844 North Rush Street in Chicago, Illinois, as the “William O. Lipinski Federal Building” 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-78, To designate the United States courthouse located at 301 Simonton Street in Key West, Florida, as the “Sidney M. Aronovitz United States Courthouse” 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-79, The Foreign Evidence Request Efficiency Act of 2009 10/7/2009 10/19/2009 Yes (10/7/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-80, The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 10/16/2009 10/21/2009 Yes (10/9/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-81, The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 10/16/2009 10/22/2009 Yes (10/16/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-82, A bill to authorize major medical facility leases for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2010, and for other purposes 10/15/2009 10/26/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-83, The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010 10/22/2009 10/28/2009 Yes (10/9/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-84, The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 10/26/2009 10/28/2009 No (10/21/2009) No
P.L. 111-85, The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 10/21/2009 10/28/2009 Yes (10/21/2009) No
P.L. 111-86, The Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act 10/22/2009 10/29/2009 Yes (10/21/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-87, The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009 10/26/2009 10/30/2009 No (10/21/2009) No
P.L. 111-88, The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 10/30/2009 10/30/2009 No (10/28/2009)* No
P.L. 111-89, A bill to provide for additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 10/30/2009 10/30/2009 No (10/29/2009) No
P.L. 111-90, The Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Amendments Act of 2009 10/22/2009 11/3/2009 Yes (10/22/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-91, The Medal of Honor Commemorative Coin Act of 2009 10/29/2009 11/6/2009 Yes (10/29/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-92, The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 11/5/2009 11/6/2009 No (11/5/2009) No
P.L. 111-93, The Credit CARD Technical Corrections Act of 2009 10/30/2009 11/6/2009 Yes (10/30/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-94, Proclaiming Casimir Pulaski to be an honorary citizen of the United States posthumously 10/29/2009 11/6/2009 Yes (10/29/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-95, A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to grant a Federal charter to the Military Officers Association of America, and for other purposes 10/30/2009 11/6/2009 Yes (10/30/2009)* No ‡
P.L. 111-96, A bill to allow the funding for the interoperable emergency communications grant program established under the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 to remain available until expended through fiscal year 2012, and for other purposes 10/30/2009 11/6/2009 Yes (10/30/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-97, The Military Spouses Residency Relief Act 11/4/2009 11/11/2009 Yes (11/4/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-98, A bill to authorize a major medical facility project at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Walla, Walla, Washington, and for other purposes 11/4/2009 11/11/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-99, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 10355 Northeast Valley Road in Rollingbay, Washington, as the “John ‘Bud’ Hawk Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-100, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 37926 Church Street in Dade City, Florida, as the “Sergeant Marcus Mathes Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-101, To name the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture in Lane, Oklahoma, and the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 310 North Perry Street in Bennington, Oklahoma, in honor of former Congressman Wesley “Wes” Watkins 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-102, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4282 Beach Street in Akron, Michigan, as the “Akron Veterans Memorial Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-103, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 140 Merriman Road in Garden City, Michigan, as the “John J. Shivnen Post Office Building” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-104, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1615 North Wilcox Avenue in Los Angeles, California, as the “Johnny Grant Hollywood Post Office Building” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-105, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 115 West Edward Street in Erath, Louisiana, as the “Conrad DeRouen, Jr. Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-106, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 867 Stockton Street in San Francisco, California, as the “Lim Poon Lee Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-107, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1165 2nd Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa, as the “Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Memorial Post Office” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-108, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 936 South 250 East in Provo, Utah, as the “Rex E. Lee Post Office Building” 11/20/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-109, A bill to redesignate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2777 Logan Avenue in San Diego, California, as the “Cesar E. Chavez Post Office” 1/28/2009 1/29/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-110, A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 60 School Street, Orchard Park, New York, as the “Jack F. Kemp Post Office Building” 11/19/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-111, A bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 630 Northeast Killingsworth Avenue in Portland, Oregon, as the “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Post Office” 11/19/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-112, A bill to extend the authority for relocation expenses test programs for Federal employees, and for other purposes 11/19/2009 11/30/2009 Yes No No
P.L. 111-113, A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to include in the Federal charter of the Reserve Officers Association leadership positions newly added in its constitution and bylaws 12/2/2009 12/14/2009 Yes (12/2/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-114, A bill to permit each current member of the Board of Directors of the Office of Compliance to serve for 3 terms 12/2/2009 12/14/2009 Yes (12/2/2009) No ‡
P.L. 111-115, To amend titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act to prohibit retroactive payments to individuals during periods for which such individuals are prisoners, fugitive felons, or probation or parole violators 12/14/2009 12/15/2009 No No No
P.L. 111-116, To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend the funding and expenditure authority of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, to amend title 49, United States Code, to extend authorizations for the airport improvement program, and for other purposes 12/14/2009 12/16/2009 No (12/14/2009) No
P.L. 111-117, Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes 12/15/2009 12/16/2009 No (12/15/2009) No
P.L. 111-118, Making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes 12/19/2009 12/19/2009 No (12/19/2009) No
P.L. 111-119, A bill to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to clarify the eligibility requirements with respect to airline flight crews 12/9/2009 12/21/2009 Yes (12/11/2009) Yes
P.L. 111-120, To extend through December 31, 2010, the authority of the Secretary of the Army to accept and expend funds contributed by non-Federal public entities to expedite the processing of permits 12/14/2009 12/22/2009 Yes (12/14/2009) Yes
P.L. 111-121, Appointing the day for the convening of the second session of the One Hundred Eleventh Congress 12/16/2009 12/22/2009 Yes (12/16/2009 Yes
P.L. 111-122, A bill to establish a section within the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice to enforce human rights laws, to make technical and conforming amendments to criminal and immigration laws pertaining to human rights violations, and for other purposes 12/17/2009 12/22/2009 Yes (12/17/2009) Yes
P.L. 111-123, To permit continued financing of Government operations 12/24/2009 12/28/2009 No (12/25/2009) No
P.L. 111-124, To extend the Generalized System of Preferences and the Andean Trade Preference Act, and for other purposes 12/23/2009 12/28/2009 Yes (12/23/2009) Yes
P.L. 111-125, To extend the commercial space transportation liability regime 12/24/2009 12/28/2009 No (12/25/2009) No
P.L. 111-126, To accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti 01/22/2010 01/22/2010 No (01/22/2010) No
P.L. 111-127, The Emergency Aid to American Survivors of the Haiti Earthquake Act 01/27/2010 01/27/2010 No n/a E! n/a E!
P.L. 111-128, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 116 North West Street in Somerville, Tennessee, as the “John S. Wilder Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-129, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 76 Brookside Avenue in Chester, New York, as the “1st Lieutenant Louis Allen Post Office” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-130, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 9810 Halls Ferry Road in St. Louis, Missouri, as the “Coach Jodie Bailey Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-131, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 440 South Gulling Street in Portola, California, as the “Army Specialist Jeremiah Paul McCleery Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-132, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 427 Harrison Avenue in Harrison, New Jersey, as the “Patricia D. McGinty-Juhl Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-133, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 16555 Springs Street in White Springs, Florida, as the “Clyde L. Hillhouse Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-134, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 170 North Main Street in Smithfield, Utah, as the “W. Hazen Hillyard Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-135, To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3900 Darrow Road in Stow, Ohio, as the “Corporal Joseph A. Tomci Post Office Building” 01/20/2010 01/29/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-136, To provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, and for other purposes 01/29/2010 01/29/2010 No No No
P.L. 111-137, To amend title 38, United States Code, to expand veteran eligibility for reimbursement by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for emergency treatment furnished in a non-Department facility, and for other purposes 01/20/2010 02/01/2010 Yes (01/20/2010) Yes
P.L. 111-138, A bill to provide that claims of the United States to certain documents relating to Franklin Delano Roosevelt shall be treated as waived and relinquished in certain circumstances 01/22/2010 02/01/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-139, Increasing the statutory limit on the public debt 02/04/2010 02/12/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-140, The Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act 02/04/2010 02/16/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-141, An Act to extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 until February 28, 2011 02/26/2010 02/27/2010 No (02/26/2010) No
P.L. 111-142, The Social Security Disability Applicants’ Access to Professional Representation Act of 2010 02/25/2010 02/27/2010 No (02/25/2010) No
P.L. 111-143, The Criminal History Background Checks Pilot Extension Act of 2009 02/17/2010 03/01/2010 Yes No No
P.L. 111-144, The Temporary Extension Act of 2010 03/02/2010 03/02/2010 No (03/03/2010) No

* Page now gone, but it was either directly observed, evidence of it appears in a Whitehouse.gov search, or the White House says it existed.
† Bill was posted for five days after final passage, though not formal presentment. Counted as “Yes.”
‡ Link to final version of bill on impossible-to-find page.
E! Emergency legislation not subject to five-day posting

This Week in Government Failure

Over at Downsizing Government, we focused on the following issues this week:

Federal Pay Gap Reversed

I’ve long raised concerns about the rapidly rising costs of federal worker pay and benefits. Despite the obvious acceleration of federal compensation above private compensation in recent years, federal unions have continued to claim that federal workers suffer from a giant “pay gap,” which is currently supposed to be 26 percent.

Unfortunately, the pay gap mythology has been spread by Washington Post reporters, one recently writing, “The budget answers critics … who say federal civilians earn much more than private-sector workers… [G]overnment figures indicate that federal employees are underpaid by 26 percent compared with their counterparts in similar position in the business world.”

The Post is generally a great paper, but they seem to have blinders on with respect to federal pay issues. As a result, the USA Today has repeatedly scooped them. USA Today has a groundbreaking piece today revealing that in job-to-job comparisons, federal workers typically have wages 20 percent higher than private-sector workers.

Instead of federal workers suffering from a 26-percent “pay gap,” they actually have a 20-percent advantage over private sector workers. And that doesn’t include benefits, which are four times higher in the federal government than in the private sector, on average.

How could the federal unions get it so wrong? The calculation of the supposed 26-percent pay gap is reported in this annual memo. But the underlying calculations are extremely complex, non-transparent, and subject to a huge degree of statistical modeling.

One reason I’ve been suspicious of the official gap claim is that while Bureau of Economic Analysis data show that average federal wages have grown far faster than private wages in recent years, the official “pay gap” has remained very high. In 2001, the pay gap was said to be 22 percent. By 2008, the gap was said to have increased to 25 percent.

Yet BEA data show that average federal salaries rose 46 percent between 2001 and 2008, much more than the 26-percent average increase in the private sector. Since the BEA data are extremely solid, there must be something wrong with the official pay gap methodology.

Where should we go from here? The first step should be to freeze federal salaries, as proposed by Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). Then we should start cutting back overly generous federal benefits.

And to get to the bottom of the ”pay gap” mystery, Congress should hire an independent human resources consulting firm to dig into the official methodology and propose a more accurate way to compare federal and private worker compensation.

For more, see:

Weekend Links

  • ObamaCare - Now with GOP sprinkles! “Though mostly not bad, they’re hardly game changing….At its heart, ObamaCare hasn’t changed. It still represents a top-down, centralized, command-and-control approach to reform.”
  • More broken promises, PATRIOT Act edition: Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel grants fresh retroactive immunity for Bush-era telecommunication lawbreaking.
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Sneaky SAFRA

Great column on the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act by Tim Carney in today’s Washington Examiner. He hits the major points — SAFRA hardly threatens a sudden federal takeover of student lending, but also promises anything but “fiscal reponsibility” — while adding a critical warning: the whole stinkin’ bill could be tacked onto health care reconciliation.

Wow! As if the health care bill isn’t abominable enough on its own…

Do You or Do You Not Hate America?

Sen. John Kerry (D, MA) made an, er, interesting rhetorical case yesterday (as reported on E2 Wire, The Hill’s Energy and Environment blog) that borrows heavily from the Bush playbook: your patriotism hinges on voting for his favored policy — in this case, a climate change bill. Not that the bill is really about climate change, of course. It’s about a list of goodies completely unrelated to the changing political winds:

What we are talking about is a jobs bill. It is not a climate bill. It is a jobs bill, and it is a clean air bill. It is a national security, energy independence bill,” he told reporters in the Capitol…

“And people are going to have to decide whether they are going to vote for America or against it,” he concluded.

Smelling Your E-mail

In response to this week’s news that the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service is facing $238 billion in losses over the coming decade, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer lamented the inevitable demise of the government mail monopoly:

As a conservative who believes in the market, it ought to die, but as a conservative that believes in tradition and stuff that really holds us together, I would subsidize until it dies a natural death in the next generation. But for old guys like me, keep it going for a while.

[As for] the hard-hearted younger generation — well, if you ever got a sweet-smelling love letter at 17, you’d feel otherwise. Of course, I never did, but somebody did.

You can’t smell your e-mail.

I did receive sweet-smelling love letters from a girl back home during my first year in college. Fifteen years later, my old college roommate is still making fun of me for it. But I don’t “feel otherwise” about the government mail monopoly. The sooner it disappears and is replaced by private operators unshackled from the unions and government mandates that are speeding the USPS’s demise, the better.

Krauthammer’s comment that “you can’t smell your e-mail” isn’t even true. The technology exists for scents to emit from your computer when you open an e-mail, click on a web advertisement, or play video games.

Krauthammer believes that the government monopoly has helped maintain national cohesiveness:

But, look, anything that is in Article 1 Section 8 of our constitution, anything that Madison had waxed enthusiastic about it in Federalist 42 — the postal roads that have kept us together — as an old-school guy, I don’t want to see it die.

If by “kept together” he means that mail enabled people all over the country to communicate with each other, the telecommunications revolution that is undermining the postal service has dramatically enhanced long-distance correspondence. Facebook is a perfect example. Most of my Facebook “friends” are people I would have otherwise lost touch with or rarely communicated with.

Finally, Krauthammer is only somewhat correct when it comes to the issue of privatizing the USPS:

Look, it’s very obvious that you can’t privatize this. Three studies have looked at the postal service. Because of the new technology there is no entrepreneur in his right mind who would purchase it. So it’s going to be on the government dole forever.

The question is, is it completely obsolete? Look, it has one mandate which other private services don’t have. It has to reach every tiny hamlet everywhere in the country no matter what. It’s got to be universal. So that’s a slight handicap that the private companies don’t have.

Its main handicap, of course, is the crushing labor union contracts and the new technology, especially e-mail, which makes most of what it does obsolete. So that’s why it runs a huge deficit.

It’s true that with the combination of unionism and government mandates the USPS in its current form is nothing private investors would want to touch. But that’s the whole point of postal liberalization and privatization. It’s pretty clear that the USPS is going to be directly supported by taxpayers in the future or it’s going to succumb to market realities. Instead of waxing nostalgic about a socialist enterprise, let’s focus on how the wonderful technologies brought to us by the private sector can better get the job done.

As Fred Smith, founder of FedEx and a Cato supporter, noted in a Cato book on the postal service:

[T]here are many things in American life that have had a great history, for example the cavalry. Yet, we do not do cavalry charges anymore. We must recognize that there are many institutions that long ago passed into history.