House and Senate Committees should Stand Up for Transparency


By close of business tomorrow, all standing committees in the House and Senate must submit to the Super Committee their recommendations about cuts and reforms to the programs under their jurisdiction. Sunlight has been joined by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, The Center for Responsive Politics, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, MapLight, Project On Government Oversight, Rootstrikers, Taxpayers for Common Sense and U.S. PIRG in calling on the standing committees to make their recommendations public by putting them online as soon as possible.

According to an announcement by Democratic leader Pelosi we can save a little postage as House Democrats have already made their recommendations public. That’s great news, but is obviously only part of the picture. Indeed, Speaker Boehner has apparently come up with a way to obfuscate by saying Republicans would not be sending the committee a formal packet of suggestions. Instead, he said GOP lawmakers will get their message across through “regular contact with super-committee members.” Too bad the public is shut out of that.

In the super secret world of the Super Committee, the public has had almost no access to information that may impact decisions about what programs get cut and by how much. The recommendations made by the standing committees of the House and Senate represent the spending and policy priorities of those committees. There is simply no justifiable reason that those priorities should be hidden from the public.

So far, the super committee has been a dismal failure in terms of transparency. The leaders of all other congressional committees must be willing to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and release their recommendations to the public.

Letter to House and Senate Committees on Super Committee recommendations

Update: (by John Wonderlich) It’s fantastic that Leader Pelosi has continued to support a more open Super Committee process, adding to her earlier call that they have public meetings. In addition to publicly laying out the House Minority Committees’ suggestions in this release, Pelosi this morning called for a more open meeting process. See the first five minutes of this video.