Congressmen Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Mike Quigley (IL-05) and Jim Renacci (OH-16) today introduced bipartisan legislation that will ensure the proceedings and outcome of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee, are fully transparent and free from undue influence. The Deficit Committee Transparency Act includes six requirements that would allow the Committee and its staff to make decisions that are in the best interest of the country and not special interests. The legislation is also supported by the Sunlight Foundation. Last month, Loebsack, Quigley and Renacci joined a group of 16 lawmakers in writing to House and Senate leadership to request similar transparency requirements be met.
"Members of this Committee are being granted extraordinary authority to handle more than a trillion dollars in taxpayer funds and there will no doubt be intense pressure from all sides to try and influence the process and outcome. I believe the only people members of this committee should be listening to are the American people," said Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02). "For there to be any amount of confidence in the decisions made by this committee, Congress has to ensure transparency exists at all levels of their dealings and deliberations."
"The "Super Committee' has been given unprecedented power to make unprecedented decisions, and we must call for unprecedented transparency," said Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-05). "With power over the fate of $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, the Committee members will face huge pressure from lobbyists and special interest groups, and the American people deserve to see exactly who is influencing the process."
"As the deficit reduction committee works to find $1.5 trillion in cuts to federal spending the American people should be able to see exactly how their elected representatives are achieving those savings," said Rep. Jim Renacci (OH-16). "Transparency in the process will limit outside influence, allow for more input from a greater number of sources and lead to a better final product for the taxpayer."
"The Sunlight Foundation applauds the introduction of the Deficit Committee Transparency Act, and hopes every member of Congress supports its swift passage to ensure the vital work of the Super Committee is conducted in an open and transparent manner. Since this committee has been granted enormous power to determine the future of our economy, it's critical all Americans have the ability to track online in real time the lobbying, activities and every dollar of campaign contributions to the committee's members," said Ellen Miller, co-founder and executive director of the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation.
The committee members have until November 23rd to develop a bipartisan proposal to reduce the deficit by up to $1.5 trillion. If agreed to by the committee, the proposal is then sent to the House and Senate which must vote on the proposal before December 23rd. Because of this short timeframe, it is important to ensure the transparency of the committee and their staff's meetings, campaign contributions and interactions. To achieve this, the legislation will:
* Require disclosure of meetings with lobbyists and special interests between committee members and staff 48 hours after the meeting on the committee website;
* Require the same disclosure on the website before any meetings occur within 48 hours of the November 23rd vote and the submission of legislative text on December 2nd;
* Require disclosure of lobbyist and special interest contributions to committee member campaigns or leadership PACs, and generally any contributions over $500, within 48 hours after the donation occurs on the committee website;
* Require creation of a committee website to make all disclosure information publicly available, in addition to information on the committee activities and proceedings;
* Require committee hearings to be streamed live on the website and televised; and
* Require the committee's report and proposed legislative language to be published online 72 hours before the vote occurs.