House GOP seizes on C-SPAN's call for cameras in healthcare negotiations

House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) on Tuesday said his party "strongly endorses" C-SPAN's request that Democratic lawmakers allow cameras into their healthcare negotiations. 

C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb first asked party leaders for full access to those discussions earlier this morning, stressing in a letter that it was crucial his channel air all debate over "legislation that will affect the lives of every single American."

Democrats have not yet said whether they will comply, and the White House has already dodged a question on the matter, but House Republicans quickly seized on the letter this afternoon and announced their support for Lamb's request.

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"As House Republican Leader, I can confidently state that all House Republicans strongly endorse your proposal and stand ready to work with you to make it a reality,” Boehner wrote in a response letter to Lamb. “Hard-working families won’t stand for having the future of their health care decided behind closed doors."

House and Senate Democrats have already signaled they plan to mediate differences in their two healthcare bills informally, mostly to escape some of the politicking that accompanies the traditional, more formal conference process.

Presumably, that means Democrats had initially hoped to keep televisions crew out of their discussions, in an attempt to play their cards close to their vest and promptly move to a final floor vote.

But C-SPAN's request on Tuesday -- given the network's apolitical reputation -- puts Democrats in a tough spot. Republicans too have argued for access to important healthcare meetings, albeit for more political reasons, so it was no surprise that GOP leaders quickly capitalized on Lamb's letter.

The House's top Republican, in his public response to the C-SPAN CEO, stressed anything less than full television access to healthcare negotiations would cast doubt on both Democrats' intentions and their final bill.

"These secret deliberations are a breeding ground for more of the kickbacks, shady deals and special-interest provisions that have become business as usual in Washington," he said. "Too much is at stake to have a final bill built on payoffs and pork-barrel spending.”