It’s about time for an update on President Obama’s Sunlight Before Signing promise. On the campaign trail and on his campaign web site, the president said he would post all bills he received from Congress online for five days before he signed them.
He hasn’t fulfilled that promise every time. In fact, so far in 2010 he’s only done it about a quarter of the time, but that’s a big improvement over 2009!
Here’s a table that summarizes the Sunlight Before Signing status of the 163 bills President Obama has signed.
|Number of Bills||Bills Held 5 Days||Bills Posted Five Days||Emergency Bills|
Of 163 bills, 113 have been held for five days as a matter of course, but only 16 have been posted on Whitehouse.gov for five days before signing. Five of the six bills posted for five days were in December, after Whitehouse.gov put a link on its home page pointing to pending legislation. The remaining ten so far in 2010 bring the president’s overall Sunlight Before Signing average to .098. Let’s round it up to 10%.
If you drop the administration’s first year, things start to look pretty good. (Hey, everything is relative…) The president is 10 for 40 in 2010—a straight .250 batting average. There have been 23 bills held five days, of course. The average could be above 50%!
Part of what is dragging the numbers down is the policy not to post bills that rename post offices. They’re not very important—that’s for sure—but the president’s promise wasn’t to post just the important bills online.
The public might benefit from knowing that Congress and the president spent time naming a post office in Saint Louis after Coach Jodie Bailey. (Coach Bailey had a record of 828 wins and 198 losses in his 42 seasons—quite a bit better than President Obama’s record on Sunlight Before Signing!)
Interestingly, the most recent new law—renaming a Department of Veterans Affairs facility—was posted online for five days. Perhaps the White House is going to start going after Sunlight Before Signing’s lowest-hanging fruit. Then things will really pick up!
After the jump, the table showing the Sunlight Before Signing treatment for all 163 laws President Obama has signed.
* Page now gone, but it was either directly observed, evidence of it appears in Whitehouse.gov search, or 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.