- US News and World Report -
Despite their claims to the contrary, the way that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have handled the healthcare bill has been anything but transparent. And, if the left-wing blogosphere is to be believed, the two congressional leaders intend to keep the deliberations secret as they try to merge the House and Senate versions of the legislation into something that will pass both chambers.
The Talking Points Memo website reported Monday that Democrats in both the House and Senate are saying the process will likely follow the path of the House taking up the Senate-passed legislation, amending it and sending it back to the Senate, which will have to pass it again. "This process cuts out the Republicans," a House Democratic aide told TPM, indicating the congressional majority intended to make sure the Republican minority would "not have a motion to recommit opportunity."
It also, say those who are following the issue, allows Pelosi to avoid having to cut deals with problematic House Democrats like Michigan's Bart Stupak, who has promised to do what he can to scuttle the final bill if it provides for federal funding of abortions.
Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is saying much the same thing, according to David Dayen at FireDogLake, another prominent left-wing website.
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Hiding health bills behind closed doors
- Democrats keep government care secrets away from the public
It may be a new year, but congressional Democrats are planning the same old sorts of sleazy tactics in their bid to take over America's health care system. Congressional Republicans, especially in the Senate, should not let them get away with it. Transparency and ethics should be Republican rallying cries, and obstruction on those grounds should be a point of pride.
By now it's almost trite to complain that President Obama repeatedly has broken his campaign pledge to "broadcast [health care] negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are." That doesn't make the complaint invalid. For legislation that could so profoundly and personally affect the daily lives of every American, Congress and the White House should be more transparent and more accessible than ever before. Instead, the process has been secretive and sordid throughout.
The House passed its version of the bill on a Saturday night. The Senate held its key procedural vote at 1 in the morning, and then provided a lump of coal in our stockings by forcing full passage of its bill on Christmas Eve. The House leadership banned consideration of all but one amendment not offered by leadership itself - forbidding debate on more than 150 of them - then provided just 24 hours for members to study the bill's final text. The Senate leadership inserted so many tawdry last-minute items that analysts are still finding jokers in the deck 11 days later.
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The C-SPAN lie? See eight clips of Obama promising televised healthcare negotiations
C-SPAN Challenges Congress to Open Health Care Talks to TV Coverage
- Fox News -
The head of C-SPAN has implored Congress to open up the last leg of health care reform negotiations to the public, as top Democrats lay plans to hash out the final product among themselves.
C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb wrote to leaders in the House and Senate Dec. 30 urging them to open "all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings," to televised coverage on his network.
"The C-SPAN networks will commit the necessary resources to covering all of the sessions LIVE and in their entirety," he wrote.
In a Tuesday afternoon press conference on health legislation negotiations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to object to the premise behind the request.
"There has never been a more open process for any legislation in anyone who’s served here’s experience," she said.
However, Republican leaders sided with C-SPAN's calls for transparency.
"As House Republican leader, I can confidently state that all House Republicans strongly endorse your proposal and stand ready to work with you to make it a reality," Minority Leader John Boehner wrote in response to the letter. "Hard-working families won't stand for having the future of their health care decided behind closed doors. These secret deliberations are a breeding ground for more of the kickbacks, shady deals and special-interest provisions that have become business as usual in Washington."
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2006 Flashback: Pelosi Says Dems Will Have Most Honest & Ethical Congress
"The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical congress in history."