A half-dozen Republicans are lobbying Senate leaders to make the newly created Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction transparent in its operations and accessible to the American public. Their proposal includes public attendance at meetings and live television broadcasts.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the six Republicans ask the leaders to “allow this process to unfold before the American people through an open debate.” The effort was spearheaded by Sen. Dean Heller (NV) with the backing of Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH), John Boozman (AR), Ron Johnson (WI), Mike Lee (UT) and David Vitter (LA). Of the six, only Boozman supported the Budget Control Act.
“As we understand it, this Committee essentially has the ability to craft their list of recommendations without any joint committee jurisdictions and without an open committee process,” the senators wrote. “Furthermore, these recommendations are not subject to debate or an amendment process afforded the majority of legislation considered in the Senate.”
In addition to making the meetings open to the public and televised, the GOP senators want a strict definition of what constitutes a meeting. They propose any time a quorum of committee members meet — in person or over the phone — the public should be notified.
The senators have yet to hear back from leadership. The letter, a copy of which is below, was delivered to Reid and McConnell yesterday.
The news follows recommendations from the Sunlight Foundation on five ways to make the new committee transparent. A group of GOP senators has also introduced legislation, the Budget Control John Committee Transparency Act (S. 1501), which would shine light on the process. Vitter has another bill, the Super Committee Sunshine Act, to require members of the new committee to disclose campaign donations.