FedUpUSA

There's Going To Be So Much Transparency In The Healthcare Deliberations, It'll Be Invisible

 

First, a little history for perspective:

“The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical congress in history.”

Democratic Leaders Plan Secret Health Reform Deliberations

January 04, 2010 05:45 PM ET | Peter Roff
By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

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.

Dayen reported that the powerful California Democrat told constituents he would be coming back to Washington Tuesday to begin negotiations with Senate leaders and the White House about what a final healthcare bill will look like—even though the House doesn’t come back into session until January 12.

According to Waxman, the process for moving will not include the standard House/Senate conference committee, because the motions to select and instruct conferees in the Senate “would need 60 votes all over again.” Instead, whatever agreements made could be packaged in an amendment to the bills passed by the House and Senate.

By blocking out the Republicans—not to mention House Democrats who object to what the Senate passed—Pelosi and Reid are setting up a protracted game of “ping-pong,” in which the legislation goes back and forth from the Senate to the House and back to the Senate again. They may be able to prevail as far as the legislation goes, ultimately, but at enormous cost to their majorities. And that may be the biggest secret of all as far as the healthcare debate is concerned, or at least the one Pelosi and Reid are most concerned about.

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.

Dayen reported that the powerful California Democrat told constituents he would be coming back to Washington Tuesday to begin negotiations with Senate leaders and the White House about what a final healthcare bill will look like—even though the House doesn’t come back into session until January 12.

According to Waxman, the process for moving will not include the standard House/Senate conference committee, because the motions to select and instruct conferees in the Senate “would need 60 votes all over again.” Instead, whatever agreements made could be packaged in an amendment to the bills passed by the House and Senate.

By blocking out the Republicans—not to mention House Democrats who object to what the Senate passed—Pelosi and Reid are setting up a protracted game of “ping-pong,” in which the legislation goes back and forth from the Senate to the House and back to the Senate again. They may be able to prevail as far as the legislation goes, ultimately, but at enormous cost to their majorities. And that may be the biggest secret of all as far as the healthcare debate is concerned, or at least the one Pelosi and Reid are most concerned about.

EDITORIAL: Hiding health bills behind closed doors

By THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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.

All these shenanigans have driven approval for the government health care bills even lower in public polls than the strong majorities that already opposed them a month ago. Yet that hasn’t fazed congressional leaders. Now comes word from multiple sources that not only will Congress refuse to televise the usual Conference Committee to reconcile the two chambers’ versions of the bill, but it won’t allow a formal conference at all. Instead, a chosen few negotiators will concoct the final version out of sight, without formal rules governing the process and without a single Republican at the table.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, candidly told a Jan. 3 home-state Democratic gathering that the sleight-of-hand is intended to enable his colleagues to avoid any more tough votes until the one on final passage. David Dayen of the liberal Web site Firedoglake reported from the meeting that, “this will not be a traditional conference committee, Waxman said, because the motions to select and instruct conferees in the Senate ‘would need 60 votes [in the Senate] all over again.'”

(Corrected paragraph:) Back in October, Rep. Vern Buchanan, Florida Republican, offered this simple resolution: “Resolved, that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that any conference committee or other meetings held to determine the final content of sweeping national health care legislation be held in full public view and not behind closed doors.”

If congressional leaders do not abide this simple request, Republicans should bring the whole Senate to a halt. Senate rules provide for so many procedural obstacles, if a determined minority wants to exercise them, that the entire body could be tied up in knots for weeks on end. In the name of open and accountable government, that’s what senators should do if the public interest continues to be trampled.

Even C-Span is crying foul:

C-SPAN Challenges Congress to Open Health Care Talks to TV Coverage

FOXNews.com

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.

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.”

Democratic leaders could bypass the traditional conference committee process, in which lawmakers from both parties and chambers meet to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of a bill. Top Democrats in the House, Senate and White House were meeting Tuesday evening to figure out the final product in three-way talks before sending it back to both chambers for a final vote.

“We don’t even know yet whether there’s going to be a conference,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen said responding to a question about the C-SPAN request. “It’s not clear whether or not that’s going to happen yet.”

This format would seem ideal for closed-door meetings, which congressional Democrats have used many times to figure out sensitive provisions in the health care bill — though President Obama pledged during the campaign to open up health care talks to C-SPAN’s cameras.

“That’s what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are,” Obama said at a debate against Hillary Clinton in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2008.

Asked about the request to Congress, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he hadn’t seen the letter.

“I know the president is going to begin discussions today on health care to iron out differences between the House and Senate bills,” he said.

Lamb urged Congress in his letter to fling open the doors in the final stretch of the negotiations.

“President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation’s editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation’s health care system,” he wrote. “Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American.”

Lamb said his network would use “the latest technology” to be “as unobtrusive as possible” during the talks.

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