TPM has an important summary of the growing push for a transparent Joint Committee (aka the “SuperCommittee” aka the “SuperCongress”), with some new developments:
First, news that Speaker Boehner is speaking generally in favor of an open process for the joint committee:
“[F]rom the conversations I’ve had with the other leaders of both parties, I can tell you there’s a strong commitment to having open hearings and a public process,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told his members on a Monday conference call, according to his spokesman.
And then, a very supportive Rep. Jason Chaffetz:
“Transparency is paramount — you should operate in the full light of day as other committees do,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) told me in an interview Tuesday. “With such a small group, with such power transparency is imperative. The last thing you want to hear about is some closed door meeting where something’s getting done that nobody knows about. It’s the peoples business and should be done in the light of day.”
Having some support from Boehner and Chaffetz will go a long way in forcing the “supercommittee” to operate in the open. After Leader Pelosi’s explicit call from last Friday, it’s beginning to look like House leadership is aligning to fight for an open process. This makes sense, since most of the Members of the House have no chance of being appointed to the panel. In order to preserve their relevance to the enormous power this panel has been given, Members (and their constituents) need to at least be able to watch its official meetings.
Yesterday, we cheered as Reps. Quigley and Renacci sent a Dear Colleague calling for a full suite of transparency requirements for the joint committee. As TPM observes, momentum is indeed on our side in the push for open meetings. (Yesterday Senator Cornyn joined the ranks of those pushing for open official meetings, if his retweet can be interpreted as an endorsement.)
Even if we win in the push for open meetings for the “super committee” (and it’s shocking that we still don’t know whether this body will even meet in public), that’s far from enough to guarantee a reasonable process. We’re also demanding (as Quigley and Renacci’s letter demands) lobbying disclosure, campaign finance disclosure, 72 hours for the committee’s recommendations, and financial disclosures online for members and staff.
You can bet we’ll be following this every step of the way, and brainstorming ways for everyone to help.