Grassley urges Senate leader to open up health care negotiations
Senator Chuck Grassley was one of 40 senators who signed a letter sent today to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urging him to open the doors to on-going closed-door negotiations among lawmakers over health care reform legislation.
On December 30, C-SPAN requested that all important negotiations during the conference to reconcile differences between the health care bills passed by the House and Senate be open to electronic media coverage. http://www.politico.com/static/PPM116_cspan.html President Obama promised televised negotiations during his 2008 campaign.
Grassley said that the impact of pending health care reform legislation is so massive that transparency is more important than ever. "The people's business sould be public," he said.
Below is the text of the letter initiated by Senator John Thune of South Dakota and signed by all 40 Republican senators, including Grassley and Senators Lamar Alexander, John Barrasso, Robert Bennett, Kit Bond, Sam Brownback, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Saxby Chambliss, Tom Coburn, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Bob Corker, John Cornyn, Mike Crapo, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Mike Enzi, Lindsay Graham, Judd Gregg, Orrin Hatch, Kay Bailey Hutchison, James Inhofe, Johnny Isakson, Mike Johanns, Jon Kyl, George LeMieux, Richard Lugar, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, Jim Risch, Pat Roberts, Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby, Olympia Snowe, David Vitter, George Voinovich, and Roger Wicker.
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader, United States Senate
United States Capitol, S-221
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
As you know, the American public has been paying close attention to the health care debates in both chambers of Congress. This important issue affects one-sixth of the American economy, and the changes made by Congress will affect every American family, individual, and business for years to come. Previous rhetoric about transparency has thus far amounted to broken promises to the American people.
In the coming weeks, we ask for increased transparency in the process of merging the House-passed bill and the Senate-passed bill. Closed door negotiations and unprecedented special provisions in exchange for votes do not meet the expectations of the American people. Numerous Senators have reiterated the need for transparency and the President himself noted in August of 2008 that:
"I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies -- they'll get a seat at the table, they just won't be able to buy every chair. But what we will do is, we'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies. And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process."
To ensure that the American people have the ability to witness the on-going negotiations between the House and Senate, we ask that any negotiations regarding a final health care reform bill be conducted in the light of day. The Chairman of C-SPAN, the network responsible for broadcasting the deliberations of Congress, has offered resources to cover all negotiation sessions live. We urge you to take him up on this offer.
We look forward to your response and the commitment that the American people can expect full transparency as you work with Speaker Pelosi and White House officials to merge the House and Senate-passed health care bills.