Honesty in Representation?

Whether you like a particular congressman’s campaign speeches or not, you can only judge his worthiness of the office once he gets in office, when you can judge him not only by how he votes, but by what he says on the floor of the House or Senate. Know matter what he says in his press releases, and no matter what he tells The Public about what he thinks about a bill, it is only what he actually says on the floor during debates, and how he votes that count. Only by those things can we (the voters) decide on whether to throw him out at the next election.

This seems like such a fundamental concept of a representative democracy that to that end, it is required, by federal law, that all proceedings on the congressional floor be published daily in print form called “The Congressional Record,” and be made available to the public. By this means, we are to keep track of what our “representatives” are doing in our name.

However, there’s a pernicious virus that has invaded this process that has been allowed to run rampant for years. It takes some detective work, and a bit of time for anyone to even realize what is going on. It seems that at some point in the past, it was decided (by them) that the verbage published in the Congressional Record could be submitted by the congressmen themselves AFTER they have spoken on the floor, in order that they could correct any mis-spoken language, clean up any “umm” problems, and mispronounciations. This in itself means that what they will submit to be published as if they had spoken it will make them seem much more eloquent than they really are, but it gets worse. Much worse.

If you watch CSPAN during any of the floor debates, you will see a Representative stand and ask to be recognized for a certain period of time, with “permission to revise and extend.” I have never seen this “permission” be denied. It is apparently some sort of ‘common courtesy’ that is always granted. But, what do they mean “revise and extend?” It means that what they submit for publication in the Congressional Record (which is supposed to be a VERBATUM record of congressional proceedings) will be “revised” and “extended” beyond what they really said.

Since they are going to “revise” it before submitting it, it’s no longer verbatum. You will have NO IDEA what your congressman says on the floor unless you watch it live on CSPAN. How many of us can do that regularly? Call your congressman and ask him or her why they feel they have the right to lie to the American People.


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