The newly formed Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has its 12 members, but beyond that there’s little known about how exactly it will operate. Congressional leaders have promised transparency of its deliberations. And as of now, though, only the first meeting and final report are required to be publicly accessible.
Two weeks ago a handful of Republican senators proposed legislation to make the so-called super committee’s work more transparent. The Sunlight Foundation offered a list of five recommendations. And today at Heritage, former Speaker Newt Gingrich outlined why putting the power in the hands of 12 people is bad for the legislative process.
Sunlight is out with a new campaign calling attention to these concerns and reminding lawmakers of the steps they could take to ensure the committee’s work is done in the open. With the goal of reducing the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion between 2012 and 2021, the 12-member committee wields enormous power over federal spending.
The five suggested transparency measures include:
- Live webcasts of all official meetings and hearings
- The committee’s report should be posted for 72 hours before a final committee vote
- Disclosure of every meeting held with lobbyists and other powerful interests
- Disclosure of campaign contributions as they are received (on their campaign websites)
- Financial disclosures of committee members and staffers