Late last week, the U.S. Senate passed H.R.1 - Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Before it was passed, at around 10:11pm December 1st, House Minority Leader Schumer said:

... because the bill is laden with special interest provisions, some recently found and many not yet seen; because the bill was given to lobbyists to read and change before Senators saw it; and because the bill was given to us on few hours’ notice and has not been read fully or considered fully by a single Senator, I move that we adjourn until Monday so we can first read and then clean up this awful piece of legislation.

[Congressional Record, pg. S7700 (pg. 77 in pdf)]

The senate voted 52-48 against.


  1. Are there any rules, regulations, codes, or laws, that prohibit legislators from voting on bills they have not read?
  2. Could voting on legislating a bill the legislator has not read be considered a dereliction of duty or some other infraction? (perhaps implied constitutional law?)

Re. Duplicate of Is there a minimum amount of opportunity to provide for reading a bill to be passed?

The linked questions asks two questions:

  1. Is there any legislation preventing this from happening?
  2. Are there actions a congressman could take to delay a vote until a "fair" time period had passed?

My 1st question extends the linked post's 1st question to include rules, regulations, and codes; not necessarily laws.

MY 2nd question is unique as it asks if performing the action (after the fact) could be considered an infraction of some sort, which was not asked in the linked the question.

  • 1
    My question has been updated to include a rebuttal to the duplicate flag. I Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 20:11
  • My guess is that there are all sorts of procedural tricks that are used to limit scrutiny which on the face of it is required; often these aren't visible except to people who are familiar with the procedures in question. Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 20:11
  • @DrunkCynic, this question relates to an actual law vs. the other one which relates to a time frame.
    – Noah
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 20:26
  • 1. I understood "legislation" to include rules, regulations, and codes as well. 2. My answer to your second question is the same as my answer to the other question. I won't goldhammer this closed as a duplicate, but I'd be happy to provide the fifth vote.
    – Brythan
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 0:40

1 Answer 1


Let me ask you a question with another question: If there were such rules, how would they enforce the rule?

That aside, the number of bills that make their way around the legislature is staggering and the offices of each senator have staff whose job it is to read the bill, parse it into what the legislator needs to know about the bill and explain it to them in ways they can understand it (especially with bills related to technology. It's more likely that the 20 something intern knows more about the internet than the 70 something legislator.)

There are some legislators I am aware of who will not vote for a bill specifically because another legislator has co-sponsored the bill, regardless of the merits of the proposed law.

Edit: With regards to pausing the passage of the bill, you could call for a motion to table the bill, but I can't speak to the nature of what that entails beyond seconding the motion.

  • If there were such rules, how would they enforce the rule? Precisely.
    – FalseHooHa
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 20:26
  • If there were such rules, how would they enforce the rule? Executive + Judicial Branch? Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 20:27
  • 2
    @KareemElashmawy: Constitution gives the two houses of congress the sole discretion to establish their own rules and like the other two branches, they don't like to share powers. Although I would like to see Pelosi looking over a bill as Trump pokes her with a stick, yelling "You have to read it before you pass it so you know what's in it", I'm pretty sure such a situation would result in Pelosi developing a newfound respect for the 2nd Amendment.
    – hszmv
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 20:34
  • 3
    And in addition to the legal issues surrounding enforceability...there'd be the practical issues. How would you actually tell if someone read the bill fully? A test? (Hmm...maybe that's a good idea...)
    – user1530
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 21:44

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