Congressman Dave Loebsack today sent a letter to the Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee, calling on them to post their recommendations for cutting the deficit online 72 hours before the committee vote. Yesterday, 20 Congressional watchdog organizations, including the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, also called for this action. Loebsack has been leading the charge in Congress to ensure the Super Committee's process and final product are fully transparent and free from the question of undue influence and special interest intervention.
"I am writing to respectfully request you proactively adopt one of the simplest measures of transparency proposed in [my legislation], which is to post the committee's recommendations for cutting the deficit online 72 hours before the committee vote," Loebsack wrote in the letter. "Ensuring the public can view the proposal before it's voted on is an easy although minimal step to give the American people the opportunity to participate in your committee's process."
"If the Super Committee members are a proxy for the entire U.S. Congress, then they cannot exclude the rest of Congress--and their constituents--from accessing the essential decisions we'll all have to face. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle regularly voice concern about one party or the other "ramming through" legislation at the 11th hour. Before the Super Committee makes decisions that will impact every American, lawmakers and their constituents MUST have at least 72 hours to read the Super Committee's proposal before they vote on it," said Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation.
Earlier this fall, Loebsack introduced legislation that was endorsed by the Sunlight Foundation to require basic transparency measures for members of the Super Committee and its staff. Loebsack has sent numerous letters to both the Co-Chairs of the Committee and House Leadership calling on the Committee to proactively take steps to implement the rules and the Leadership to immediately bring up the legislation.
A copy of the letter can be found here.
Dear Co-Chair Hensarling and Co-Chair Murray,
I write to continue to bring to your attention bipartisan legislation I introduced to require transparency for Super Committee members and staff. Entitled the Deficit Committee Transparency Act, HR 2860, it is comprised of proposals to ensure the public has insight into how the committee will reach its important conclusions on at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by November 23, 2011.
Unfortunately, despite numerous requests, this legislation has not been brought up for a vote and the major provisions have not been adopted proactively by your committee. Therefore, I am writing to respectfulyl request you proactively adopt one of the simplest measures of transparency proposed in HR 2860, which is to post the committee's recommendations for cutting the deficit online 72 hours before the committee vote. My understanding is that twenty government watchdog and transparency organizations have writting to you in support of this request as well.
I believe that for the American people to have confidence in the committee's proceedings, outcome, and even a renewed confidence in Congress, you must ensure transparency when dealing with these important matters. The committee's members need to be free from undue influence and free to make decisions that are best for the country and not special interests. Ensuring the public can view the proposal before it's voted on is an easy although minimal step to give the American people the opportunity to participate in your committee's process.
The result of your committee's work will impact our economy for years to come and will affect every American. For that reason, I also again urge you to proactively implement all the transparency measures laid in HR 2860 as part of the rules governing your committee in the immediate future.
With the short timeframe you have to develop a bipartisan proposal to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion, it is more important than ever that a high level of transparency be required of the committee's and staff's meetings, campaign contributions, and interactions. I against respectfully urge you to at minimum post the committee's recommendations for reducing the deficit online 72 hours before the committee vote. Thank you for your time and consideration of these important matters.