Movement is building for a transparent “Super Committee”. (As the #supercongress or Joint Select Committee on Debt Reduction is also called.)
Rep. Mike Quigley, who you may recognize as one of the sponsors behind the Lobbying Disclosure Enhancement Act, has joined up with Rep. Jim Renacci to send a “Dear Colleague” letter to the rest of Congress, asking for other Members to sign onto a letter to congressional leaders to demand an open process.
Reps. Quigley and Renacci are calling for a transparent joint committee, including webcast meetings, and near real-time disclosure of lobbying contacts and campaign contributions, and at least 72 hours online for the committee’s recommendations.
Steam is clearly building behind the idea of an open joint committee, as more bills have been introduced demanding openness, and as Leader Pelosi called for an open supercommittee on Friday. Today’s letter is a milestone, as it reflects the broad requirements laid out by Sunlight last week, calling for lobbying and campaign finance disclosure, and because it is a bipartisan effort to bring transparency to the supercongress.
Text of the letter is below, along with an embedded copy of the dear colleague.
Ensure Full Transparency of “Super Committee”
August 8, 2011
Please join us in sending the letter below to the House and Senate Leadership calling for increased transparency and openness of the new “Super Committee.” This Committee, established under the recently-passed Budget Control Act of 2011, will have unprecedented power over the fate of $1.5 trillion in cuts that will affect the lives of millions of Americans.
Given this great power, the Committee members will be under intense pressure from lobbyists and special interest groups. A recent article in the Washington Post highlights how the health care and defense industries are already lining up their lobbyists in order to have their voices heard: http://wapo.st/nVwnzE
Our letter calls for four specific transparency measures aimed at ensuring oversight and accountability of the Super Committee:
- Require all meetings be streamed live online.
- Require the final legislative language put forward by the Committee be posted online 72 hours before the final vote.
- Require campaign contributions to Committee members be disclosed online weekly.
- Require all meetings between lobbyists/special interest groups and members of the Committee and their staffs be posted online weekly.
We hope you will join us in this bipartisan effort to ensure the highest level of transparency of the powerful, new Super Committee. The deadline to sign on is COB, Friday, August 12.
Please contact Robyn Russell (email@example.com) with Rep. Quigley to sign on or with any questions.
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
August X, 2011
The Honorable Harry Reid Senate Majority Leader United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Mitch McConnell Senate Minority Leader United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable John Boehner Speaker of the House United States House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi House Minority Leader United States House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner, and Minority Leader Pelosi:
As you know, the recently passed Budget Control Act of 2011 establishes a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction composed of 12 members of congress who will be tasked with reducing the deficit by $1.5 trillion between 2012 and 2021. Given the incredible new powers of this “Super Committee” to recommend significant reforms, cuts, and revenue measures, we write today to ask you, as the appointers of the Committee, to ensure all the work of the Committee is done as openly and transparently as possible.
Specifically, we would like to request that the following transparency requirements are met:
1. All meetings and hearings should be publically noticed in advance, open to the public, broadcast live over the internet, and archived on the Committee’s website. 2. The final legislative language put forward by the Committee should be posted online at least 72 hours prior to the final Committee vote. 3. Campaign contributions received by Committee members should be posted online at least once per week to ensure proper oversight of donations from special interests to Committee members. 4. All meetings between lobbyists and other special interest groups and members of the Committee and their staffs should be posted online at least once per week, as was done with the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Holding extraordinary powers over trillions of dollars in spending and revenues, the 12 Committee members will face unprecedented pressure from special interest groups. Implementing the transparency measures listed above will ensure the vital work of the Committee is done out in the open and not behind closed doors.
The Super Committee has the potential to make game-changing reforms that will remedy our budget for decades to come, and we support the efforts of the Committee. We simply want to ensure that the process by which these critical decisions are made, that will result in billions of dollars in budget cuts impacting every American, will be as open, transparent, and accountable as possible.
Thank you for your consideration of our requests. Should you have any questions, please contact Robyn Russell (firstname.lastname@example.org) with Rep. Quigley.
Member of Congress
Member of Congress