Scouring legislation when reporting on a new bill seems like a corner post of journalistic practice. Obtaining these bills before they become available online, however, can be ridiculously difficult and frustrating.
The press offices of various lawmakers always seem surprised and a little put off when I decline the press release they want to feed me about a new bill instead of the actual bill itself. They often act as if just finding the bill and attaching it to an email is burdensome â€“ and may take hours. And often, it does.
The impression that requesting legislation from lawmakers is a rare occurrence leads us to ask: arenâ€™t other reporters reading bills before they report on them? Or are they simply regurgitating press releases? And if no one in the office can find a piece of legislation quickly, what are the members of Congress going on when they vote?