When President Obama signed his first bill without posting it to the Web for five days of public comment, we gave him his first Promise Broken.
For his second bill, Obama signed an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage for low-income children. He signed it on Feb. 4, 2009, just hours after it was finalized in Congress.
This time, though, the White House had posted the text of the working bill to its Web site on Feb. 1, 2009, with
the following note
: "Since this version of the bill is expected to pass the House of Representatives in the coming week, we are making the legislation available for public comment now."
That doesn't quite cut it for his promise,
though. The legislation was still in process in Congress, and even if no substantial changes were made, the possibility was still there. It's not the five-day waiting period he had promised.
It's also not emergency legislation. The bill's provisions don't kick in until April 1, 2009, almost three months from signing.
We asked the White House about this matter on Jan. 29, when Obama signed his first bill. Five days later, on the day of the SCHIP signing, we got a reply via e-mail from spokesman Tommy Vietor:
"During the campaign, the president committed to introducing more sunlight into the lawmaking process by posting nonemergency legislation online for five days before signing it. The president remains committed to bringing more transparency to government, and in this spirit the White House has posted legislation expected to come to the president's desk online for comment. We will be implementing this policy in full soon; currently we are working through implementation procedures and some initial issues with the congressional calendar. In the meantime, we will continue to post legislation on our Web site for comment as it moves through congress over the next few weeks."
In deciding on our ratings, we like to be reasonable about promises that take time to implement. That's why all the promises start at "No Action." But the White House has demonstrated it has the technical ability to post information to their site and allow comments. They're just not waiting the promised interval. So it's still a Promise Broken.