Sen. Portman: Supercommittee members want transparency too

A Republican member of the 12-person bicameral supercommittee said that members of the deficit-reduction panel want to see some transparency in its deliberations.

"As far as transparency, my sense is that everyone who's part of this committee wants to make sure that there's transparency, that the public has an opportunity to have its input made, that other members of Congress do," Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) said Thursday, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Critics of the bipartisan supercommittee, which was established as part of the debt-ceiling deal and is charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions, have focused, in part, on the secrecy of the committee saying that the meetings and workings should be public.

Portman added, though, that there will be private dealings of the committee and also between a few members of the committee.

"I've already had a number of conversations with Democrats and Republicans who are on the committee and I think that's expected and I think that's healthy for us to have conversations among ourselves," Portman said. "There will be individual conversations. I'm sure there will be groups of senators and groups of members of the House who will be speaking periodically. So I think there needs to be a good balance here where people have input, people feel like it's a transparent process, but we also are able to have a candid exchange with colleagues."

Portman also weighed in criticism that members of the committee should not be involved in fundraising while they're working on a deficit reduction proposal. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), another member of the committee, in particular has come under fire for this because she is the chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"I think every member of the committee has been running for election or reelection during policy debates and has sought and accepted campaign contributions while making decisions on votes and doing their committee work and legislating," Portman said. "So I would hope that people would acknowledge that this is the way our system works — that we are able to legislate and again also also raise campaign contributions as appropriate."

The committee will fully begin work when Congress reconvenes in September.

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