Mass action on January 18, 2012 won a small victory for opponents of the internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA. Many websites “blacked out” in protest and asked visitors to sign an online petition. Google reports that 4.5 million people added their name to an online petition to Congress to oppose internet censorship. Possibly in response to these actions, Lamar Smith, the main sponsor of SOPA, announced on Friday that he would delay further action on the bill.
“The action by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) on the Stop Online Piracy Act came a couple of hours after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that he would delay a cloture vote on a similar Senate bill, the Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act.”
Neither Reid nor Smith said that they would not attempt to add the text of SOPA or PIPA into another piece of legislation with a better chance of passing. In fact, it is not unusual for Congress to combine unpopular proposals to legislation that is almost guaranteed to pass.
“The REAL ID Act is a perfect example of how Congressional leaders pass laws that lack majority support. This bill created a scheme Americans have always opposed — a national ID card. This idea had so little support that it couldn’t even be brought to a vote in the Senate. Yet , Congressional leaders got it passed anyway, by attaching it to a bill Senators were afraid to oppose — the ‘Emergency, Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief.’ (May, 2005)”
In similar fashion, a provision to ban online gambling was added into a port security bill.
Voters could lobby their so called “Representatives” on every piece of legislation.
However, since Congress doesn’t have time to read bills before voting – and sometimes before debate; voters certainly don’t have time to read the bills AND lobby Congress.
However, there is an easier way to get Congress to
1) know what they’re voting for (or against);
2) not combine multiple pieces of legislation;
and 3) no longer hide the true subjects of their bills behind propagandistic titles such as the “USA PATRIOT Act,” the “Protect America Act,” or the “No Child Left Behind Act.”
I urge you to contact your Congressional representatives asking, nay demanding, they introduce and pass the bills of the DownsizeDC Agenda. The DownsizeDC Agenda consists of the Read the Bills Act, One Subject at a Time Act, Write the Laws Act, Enumerated Powers Act, Free Competition in Currency Act and proposals to have Congress “Cap the Debt” and Fight Deficit Spending.
(Cover Photo: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg)