Lawmakers from both parties urge budget conference to make talks public

A bipartisan trio of House lawmakers are calling on the budget conference to throw open its doors and adopt transparency measures.

Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) and Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) told the newly-formed panel Wednesday that Americans deserved to know what talks were taking place.

The statement came after the first public meeting of the budget conference, which saw the House and Senate conferees from both parties simply deliver opening statements for several hours. The panel is not scheduled to hold another public hearing until Nov. 13, as staff and members meet privately to continue talks.

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The trio blasted closed-door haggling, and said the budget panel must be transparent to restore lagging trust in the federal government, as well as confidence in whatever deal may be finally reached.

“Members of this Conference Committee will undoubtedly be under intense pressure from all sides to try and influence what is included in the final product,” sad Loebsack. “For the American people to have any amount of confidence in the final product, the process must be open and transparent.”

The lawmakers have at least one conferee on their side: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). He used his opportunity to speak at Wednesday’s public meeting to blast leaders for making previous deals in private before presenting them to rank-and-file members. He urged the panel to make all of its negotiations public.