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Trump correct about one thing: Bills are too massive | READER COMMENTARY

The Capitol at dawn in Washington on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. The $900 billion stimulus bill that President Donald Trump finally signed into law on Sunday evening goes well beyond providing the $600 checks that became a huge sticking point in getting the legislation across the finish line.
The Capitol at dawn in Washington on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. The $900 billion stimulus bill that President Donald Trump finally signed into law on Sunday evening goes well beyond providing the $600 checks that became a huge sticking point in getting the legislation across the finish line. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

Despite all the things President Donald Trump got wrong, he got one thing right when he said the COVID-19 relief bill was a disgrace.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 bill is similar to most of the bills written by Congress. They contain numerous unrelated and unimportant items riding on a bill that addresses an important issue. Numerous past presidents have requested the “line-item veto” but, of course, Congress never approved it because members like riders. Attaching riders to bills gives them the ability to hide special interest and pork barrel projects and get them approved. When the bill gets complex, the dollar amount gets large and the bill contains thousands of pages, no one knows what is in the bill. The president and members of Congress have little time to read the bill and so they do not know what they are voting for. President Trump was right, this is a disgrace (”Second stimulus check updates: House Democrats to vote on $2,000 relief checks that Trump demanded,” Dec. 28)!

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A bill should contain only one single item and a very limited number of pages. For example, the COVID-19 $600 personal benefit should be covered by one single independent bill while the COVID-19 small business benefit should be a separate independent bill and the airline bailout should be still another separate independent bill. Each bill could be explained in a few pages and both the president and lawmakers would know what they are voting on.

Fortunately, President Joe Biden can put an end to this bureaucratic mess by vetoing each and every bill that contains more than one single item and more than ten pages. This would force Congress to write simple understandable bills that would pass or fail based on their own merit. President Biden, this is your opportunity to take a first step to improve American democracy. Are you up to the task?

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Bernard Bartos, Ellicott City

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