Sen. Leahy calls for transparency in supercommittee negotiations

Vermont Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCongress should build on the momentum from spending bill Overnight Tech: Zuckerberg grilled by lawmakers over data scandal | What we learned from marathon hearing | Facebook hit with class action lawsuit | Twitter endorses political ad disclosure bill | Uber buys bike share Overnight Cybersecurity: Zuckerberg faces grilling in marathon hearing | What we learned from Facebook chief | Dems press Ryan to help get Russia hacking records | Top Trump security adviser resigning MORE, the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, is calling on the debt-reduction supercommittee to avoid secrecy in its negotiations.

Leahy sent a letter to the panel’s co-chairs Thursday asking for full transparency as it works toward assembling a $1.5 trillion deficit-reduction package.

“I urge you to carefully consider and adopt rules of procedure for the committee that will ensure transparency and accountability to the American people,” Leahy wrote in a letter to Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Trump's VA pick on the ropes | White House signals it will fight for nominee | Senate panel approves opioid bill | FDA cracking down on e-cig sales to kids Trump's nominee for the VA is on the ropes Senate Health panel approves opioid bill MORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

“An open and transparent process for the work of the committee is vital to ensuring that the recommendations of the committee will have the confidence and support of the American people.”

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee are concerned that programs under their jurisdiction will face hundreds of billions in cuts as a result of the supercommittee’s recommendations.

Appropriators will have little recourse to oppose the recommended cuts because the supercommittee’s proposals will be guaranteed an up-or-down vote without amendment on the Senate floor.

Outside groups have also called for transparency.

Liberal and good-government-watchdog organizations say the supercommittee’s 12 members should publicly disclose all meetings they hold with lobbyists, corporate CEOs and campaign donors.

“Americans have lost faith and trust in Washington because they believe corporate CEOs and lobbyists call the shots,” the groups wrote in an Aug. 4 letter to Congress. “Rebuilding that faith will take actions, not words.

“The best way to insulate the committee is for appointed members to end all fundraising and to be fully transparent regarding with whom they meet while they serve on the committee.”

Twenty-five groups signed that letter, including Public Campaign, Public Citizen,, Campaign for America’s Future, USAction and Common Cause.

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