FACT CHECK: Did Lawmakers Have Less Than A Minute Per Page To Read The Omnibus Before Voting?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis said Friday that lawmakers had less than a minute per page to read the omnibus spending bill before they voted on it.

“The Senate passed the 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package affecting every American 65-32 after giving the public and each other less than a minute per page to read it,” he tweeted Friday.

Verdict: True

The 2,232-page omnibus would have taken 37 hours to read at a rate of one page per minute. The House passed the bill about 17 hours after the text was released, and the Senate passed it about 28 hours after its release.

Fact Check:

President Donald Trump signed the $1.3 trillion omnibus into law on Friday. The spending bill funds the federal government until the end of the 2018 fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Depending on formatting, the omnibus is 2,149 or 2,232 pages. Given a minute to read each page, it would take 36 to 37 hours to read the text of the omnibus in its entirety.

Republican House leadership released the text of the bill at about 8 p.m. on Wednesday night. The House passed the bill about 17 hours after the text’s release on Thursday afternoon, and the Senate passed it just after midnight on Friday, about 28 hours after its release. Trump announced Friday about 41 hours after its release that he had signed the bill.

Some lawmakers voted against the bill because there was not enough time to read its contents. “I’ve learned to be a quick reader in this job, but the anticipated time frame of less than a day simply is too short for me to read this omnibus in its entirety,” Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia said in a statement Thursday.

Republican Rep. Thomas Massie resorted to monitoring reporters’ Twitter feeds to find out what was in the bill before it was released. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky attempted to read the bill in its entirety, but he stopped at page 600 Thursday night.

Other members of Congress argued that lawmakers already knew about much of what was in the omnibus. “We passed 12 appropriations bills; we know what the appropriations bills were. We passed them months ago,” New York Rep. Dan Donovan told RollCall. “This is just figuring out what the new details [are] going to be. That’s been holding up the process all along.”

The House did pass a $1.2 trillion omnibus in September that combined the 12 appropriations bills, but the Senate did not approve it.

“There are significant differences between that September omnibus bill and the one that just passed Congress,” Patrick Newton, press secretary for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.

Congress approved and Trump signed a budget deal in February that increased spending caps for both military and domestic spending and raised the debt ceiling. The bill enacted Friday includes billions more spending than the September omnibus, and it is nearly 600 pages longer. “That’s a lot of additional content,” Newton said.

The omnibus includes $1.6 billion for a border wall, the “Fix NICS” measure which incentivizes agencies to report records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for firearm sales, funding for Planned Parenthood and $3.6 billion to combat the opioid crisis.

The Republican Party’s “Pledge to America” during the 2010 campaign championed a rule to allow at least three days to read a bill before a vote. Former Speaker John Boehner’s office declared in 2011 that “the days of quickly ramming massive bills through Congress” were “over.” A GOP aide on the House Rules Committee told The Hill that the three-day rule did not apply to the omnibus.

Republican Rep. Thomas Garrett introduced a resolution in the House Thursday to require a minimum consideration period of at least two minutes per page before a vote so that lawmakers have time to read bills before they vote on them.

“This must stop. There should never again be a, ‘pass it to find out what’s in it moment,'” Garrett said in a statement.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter