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TELL THE TRUTH, CONGRESS

SHARE TELL THE TRUTH, CONGRESS

By voting this week to assure a verbatim transcript of House proceedings in the Congressional Record, the Republican caucus struck a long-overdue blow for less hypocrisy and more candor.

As it is now, lawmakers are permitted to edit freely the remarks they made during debates and delete anything they consider embarrassing. The result has been a number of indefensible episodes like the one in which Rep. Gus Savage of Illinois accused some of his colleagues of racism, then deleted the accusation when his impassioned speech on the House floor was printed in the Congressional Record.Under the planned new change, only technical, grammatical and typographical errors could be corrected. That would be a big improvement, but it doesn't go quite far enough.

What's also needed is an end to the practice by which lawmakers insert into the Congressional Record words that were never uttered in the House or Senate. Such material adds substantially and needlessly to the size of this publication and its cost to the taxpayers.

Consider just one typical case in point: When Jim Wright of Texas was speaker of the House, he used the Record to plug a home video product made by his wife's employer even though the subject never came up during discussions on the floor of the House.

Imagine how Congress would react if the White House or the courts altered their records the way the nation's lawmakers routinely alter the Congressional Record. This publication needs to be turned into an accurate transcript of what Congress says and does. Until that is accomplished, it will remain merely a record of the legislative branch's disregard for truth and the taxpayers' money.