During his campaign for the presidency, then-Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he would post the bills Congress sent him online for five days before signing them. It was a basic transparency promise that would help prevent rushed legislation containing parochial amendments, unexamined earmarks, and errors. This and other promises brought hails of applause.
It was his first broken promise. President Obama signed the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009” into law the day after it reached him.
I’ve tracked the promise on this blog, and in my November post noted President Obama’s improvement in 2010 over what can only be characterized as a lousy start. In the first year of his term, 2009, the president received 124 bills from Congress and signed a dismal 6 of them—only 4.8%.
On January 20, we reached the mid-point of President Obama’s term, and his mid-term Sunlight Before Signing stats can be announced. With a strong showing on the flurry of bills passed at the end of the 111th Congress, the president’s Sunlight Before Signing percentage has inched just above 50%.
Of 381 bills that should have been posted on Whitehouse.gov after President Obama received them, 192 were actually posted. That’s 50.393% if you like going beyond the decimal.
Here’s a summary table, showing year-by-year the bills presented, the one emergency bill not subject to posting, and bills properly posted. After the jump, you can see bill-by-bill how the president did with Sunlight Before Signing.
|Number of Bills||Emergency Bills||Bills Posted Five Days|
Sunlight Before Signing, Bill-by-Bill
(Parentheses indicate a separate Whitehouse.gov page with a link to Thomas legislative database)
* Page now gone, but it was either directly observed, evidence of it appears in Whitehouse.gov search, or White House says it existed.
[Brackets indicate a link from Whitehouse.gov to Thomas legislative database]
† 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. Counted as “Yes” in simplifying graphs and tables.