Tomorrow the Senate Finance Committee is considering a step toward openness and transparency for committee meetings but there are still some big loopholes in the draft rules.
Namely, the proposed rule would establish a 21 business day deadline for posting meeting records, which translates into more than a calendar month. If the goal is transparency, why should the public have to wait so long? Often bills go through committee and pass the Senate in less than a month! The stimulus package, for example, is going to be voted on in Senate Finance tomorrow, and will be up on the Senate floor after that. On the 21 business day timeline, a posting of the committee hearing would be useful for historical purposes only.
The draft rules would also allow the committee to delete meeting records after the conclusion of a Congress which could actually result in records of committee meetings never being posted, since any committee meeting occurring in the last month of a Congress would be spared from being posted under the 21 day rule.
OMB Watch has done great work on this issue, and has more information on the subject.