A bipartisan assembly of groups representing a variety of interests—from a conservative government watchdog to a supporter of women’s rights to social security advocates—today sent a letter to the twelve members of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction asking them to post their recommendations for trimming at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget online for 72 hours prior to a committee vote.
The breadth of groups that joined the letter demonstrates that Super Committee transparency is an issue that matters to every American. Anyone with an interest in any federal program should have the opportunity to read the bill and determine its impact on the programs they care about. Likewise, the members of Congress who will be called on to vote on the Super Committee’s recommendations without amendment should have more than hours or minutes to determine how to cast their vote. They should, too, have a chance to weigh in with Super Committee members before the bill is finalized, if their constituents feel strongly that the bill should be changed.
Yes, time is running out. But that is no excuse for the Super Committee to claim they can’t allow the public to read the bill. They have known since August that the public and members of Congress have been calling for the committee’s recommendations to be made public before a committee vote. They can’t be surprised if there is outrage should they decide to ram a bill through at the 11th hour. Members of Congress are procrastinators. They will wait until a deadline to come to any conclusion. It won’t matter if the deadline is 72-hours earlier than they had hoped.
We strongly urge the Super Committee to heed the call of those urging them to complete their work and post the bill online 72 hours before they vote. In what has been an entirely secretive and undemocratic process so far, it is the least that can be done to attempt to restore the public’s faith in the deficit cutting process.