Boehner wants Pelosi to put Wall Street conference on C-SPAN

House GOP leader John Boehner (Ohio) wrote Pelosi on Friday urging that she allow C-SPAN to cover the conference process, when House and Senate lawmakers work to hammer out differences between their two bills to produce a final piece of legislation.

No matter which party has been in charge of Congress, these negotiations have almost always been held behind closed doors with no television cameras.

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"This subject is too important and affects too much of our economy to be written in its final stages by a select few Democrats and lobbyists behind closed doors," Boehner wrote to Pelosi in a letter. "And consistent with the new House initiative of live streaming video of House floor proceedings, we believe the conference debate should include live webcasting so even more Americans can engage in the debate over this crucial legislation’s final form."

Republican senators have expressed support for an open conference, and Democrats, for their part, have not dismissed the idea at this point.

Boehner's call retreads an argument Republicans had made at the height of the healthcare debate, when they asked House and Senate Democrats to televise high-stakes internal deliberations on the legislation. C-SPAN had at the time expressed a willingness to televise those negotiations. 

Boehner pointed to statements by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the Senate author of the bill, and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the House author of the bill, expressing openness to the idea.

"The American people asked for an open and bipartisan process on health care and were denied," Boehner said. "We cannot allow a similar closed process on financial regulatory reform."

The Senate passed its Wall Street reform bill on Thursday evening, and will vote Monday on instructing and appointing conferees to work with the House on producing a final negotiation. Pelosi had previously insisted on a conference.

There are some major differences between the two bills that will be closely watched during the process of reconciling the two, not least of which include the structure and role of the consumer financial protection agency, and how derivatives will be regulated.