The following originally appeared on www.fiscalaccountability.org:
Now that both chambers of the U.S. Congress have passed their respective healthcare bills, the question was how they would proceed to reconcile the two versions. Earlier this week, we got our answer: There would not be a formal conference committee, but rather, the chambers would resort to "ping-pong" sending the bills back and forth between the chambers until both have passed an idential version. The reasoning behind their move is quite transparent. According to Politico:
On the Senate side, it avoids three separate votes that would require 60 members to cut off debate. On the House side, it avoids amendments, denies Republicans a vote to effectively block the bill and avoids earmark transparency and 72-hour layover rules, according to a memo put out by Rep. David Dreier, the Ranking Republican on the House Rules Committee.
What is not transparent, is the actual process. Negotiations are now being held behind closed door, against all the promises made by President Obama and Congressional Democrats that taxpayers would be privy to the negotiations.
C-SPAN has taken issue with the secrecy, and has requested that their cameras be granted access to all important negotiations. CFA and ATR have also sent a letter to Congress urging leadership to allow C-SPAN to broadcast these important deliberations into America’s living rooms. After all, this was supposed to be the "most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress," according to Nancy Pelosi. A petition drive is also underway.
However, the same Nancy Pelosi who so solenmly proclaimed this new open Congress is now laughing at the request that TV cameras be allowed into the negotiation rooms, claiming that there has never been a more open process.
House GOP Leader John Boehner is right when he says:
”Let’s be clear: skipping a real, open Conference would shut out the American people and break one of President Obama’s signature campaign promises. It would be a disgrace – to the Democratic Leaders if they do it, and to the President who broke his word. That’s no laughing matter.”