Republicans in the House and Senate are working ahead of the formation of the bicameral deficit-reduction “supercommittee” to guarantee increased transparency in the committee’s process.
In a letter sent Wednesday to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a group of six GOP senators requested that the supercommittee meetings not take place “behind closed doors.”
Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.), David Vitter (La.), Mike Lee (Utah), John Boozman (Ark.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) signed the letter.
On Thursday, Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan (Fla.) announced he would introduce similar legislation in the House. “Too much is at stake to allow this 12-member committee to make critical decisions about the country’s future behind closed doors,” Buchanan said in a statement.
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Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress have until Aug. 16 to appoint six members from the House and six from the Senate to the so-called supercommittee. The panel will be tasked with crafting a $1.5 trillion deficit-reduction package that will be presented to Congress before Thanksgiving, with an up-or-down vote on the whole package required by Christmas.
In a statement Thursday, Johnson expressed dismay with the inclusion of the supercommittee in the debt-limit bill, criticizing the separation of deficit decisions from the normal legislative process.
“The least we should expect is for that committee to do its business in the open,” he said.
In their letter, the six GOP senators wrote that they were “united in [their] concern about the authority granted to this committee.”
“If our colleagues wish to raise taxes or propose spending cuts, the American people have a right to see that process unfold,” they wrote.
Vitter this week also introduced the Super Committee Sunshine Act, a bill designed to force appointed members of the supercommittee to disclose campaign donations of more than $1,000 they receive while serving on the panel. This bill would likely take on greater significance if members of the supercommittee run for office in 2012.
Although speculation regarding who will serve on the supercommittee has been rampant since the debt-limit deal became law Tuesday, congressional leaders have remained quiet about whom they are considering for the 12 slots.