When Congress rushes through important legislation such as this upcoming bill, extraneous items of questionable merit are usually thrown in during the final stretch of the haggling process among key staff members behind closed doors.
That's what happened in the process of the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act, for example. After passage of the controversial legislation, lawmakers discovered that they had approved an obscure provision that allowed the Bush Administration to appoint replacements for U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation. That enabled Alberto Gonzales, then the Attorney General, to install U.S. attorneys whom many Democratic members of Congress charged were political henchmen.
"What we know is that lobbyists have flooded the offices of Capitol Hill all of last week, and all last weekend after the Paulson bill was announced, and it's a lobbying frenzy," says Ellen Miller, co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation. "Without full transparency for what's in the legislation, we won't find out who got what until after the bill has been passed, and after it's too late for anybody to react to it."