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Group Calls For Online Transparency In Wall Street Rescue

Members of the Sunlight Foundation want Congress to post the final draft of the legislation online for 72 hours before voting on it to allow for better citizen review.
The Sunlight Foundation wants to increase transparency and participation by putting the next version of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill online and allowing readers to comment.

The group has called on Congress to post the final draft of the legislation online for 72 hours before voting on it. While that is unlikely to happen as pressure mounts to act quickly, the group has already posted two leading proposals online.

Congress is debating whether to approve the proposed Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (HR 3997). The Senate is expected to vote on a revised version of the issue Wednesday after the House of Representatives failed to pass the original draft of the legislation Monday.

Citizens posted more than 100 comments from Monday to Tuesday, when the documents appeared on what the Sunlight Foundation calls its open source policy-making site. The blog-style site contains proposals from the U.S. Treasury Department and U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd. The bulk of the comments centered on a desire for oversight and limiting executive compensation.

"We posted these proposals as a public service, so that citizens can use the power of the Internet to share their knowledge and show Congress what they really want to see in this vital legislation," Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation, said in a statement. "Legislative proposals should not be drafted in secret. We believe, as Justice Brandeis said, that 'Sunlight is the best of disinfectants,' and that all legislation ought to be open to public comment and consideration in real time, not just after the fact. By posting the bills online on PublicMarkup.org, we hope to inspire Congress to follow our example."

The group has posted an online petition to increase support for its attempt to hold the bill for 72 hours.

"Sunlight believes all legislation should posted online for at least 72 hours before a vote to give lawmakers and citizens sufficient time to review and debate it, and this bill is no exception," said Miller. "The failure of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 on Monday, September 29, 2008, is a case in point. The bill was posted online late Sunday afternoon, and voted on less than 24 hours later. That's why we are calling on citizens to sign a petition to tell Congress to wait 72 hours between when the bill is first posted online and the actual vote."

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