Vapor Bill: What It Means, Why It Matters, and How You Can Stop It

What it Means: Vapor bill: A bill which moves through the legislative process in one or more houses of the U.S. Congress without legislative language. The best example of a Vapor Bill is the Senate Health Care Reform bill, which has no legislative language, but has been amended in the Senate Finance Committee. The term Vapor Bill was derived from the word Vaporware, a term coined during the dot-com era to describe all-singing-all-dancing software that was not written yet.

Here is how Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation describes the Vapor Bill:

President Barack Obama’s push for a sweeping health care overhaul is going to be voted upon in the Senate Finance Committee this week and nobody has read the actual bill yet. The Washington Post reported last Friday that “Senate Finance Committee Releases Its Final Text of Health-Care Bill,” yet you click on a link to the “Bill” referenced in the Post article and all you get is a 262 page description of the legislation. There still is no actual legislative language being given to Senators, Staff or the American Public. That is why many are calling it the “Vapor Bill.”

Why it Matters: A bill without legislative language cannot be accurately scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Its impact and effects cannot be judged, nor can it be accurately evaluated without the legislative language. The end of life counseling in the House bill was discovered by reading the bill — as were many other objectionable ideas and issues.

The Vapor Bill is part of a key Senate Democratic Leadership strategy to bring a blank bill before the Senate — in this particular case — the AIG Bonus bill.

How You Can Stop It: Call Your Senator’s right now and demand that the legislative language for the health reform bill be available for 72 hours before the Senate begins consideration of the bill, and that CBO Scores the bill by evaluating the legislative language — not a literary work that is not the language that will become law. The phone number for the Senate switchboard is (202) 224-3121 and if you tell the operator which state you live in, they will connect you with your Senator’s office. Call the Democratic Senator first. They are the ones that need to hear the following message:

Vote against cloture on the motion to proceed until the bill’s legislative language has been scored by CBO and the language has been available on the internet 72 hours before consideration of the bill begins.

Are we losing control of our democracy, if such far reaching legislation can be hidden from the public? If you answered yes, call your Senators NOW.

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