Watchdog: Next round of debt talks should be out in the open


Miller addressed the letter to Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner says he voted for Trump, didn't push back on election claims because he's retired Boehner: Trump's claims of stolen election a 'sad moment in American history' Trump digs in on attacks against Republican leaders MORE (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWhite House races clock to beat GOP attacks Harry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' The Memo: Biden seeks a secret weapon — GOP voters MORE (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell seeks to end feud with Trump Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Colin Powell on Afghanistan: 'We've done all we can do' MORE (R-Ky.), the four leaders who will each choose three members of the panel.

A lot is at stake with the joint committee, which was set up in the debt-ceiling deal President Obama signed into law on Tuesday. The members of the panel will be tasked with finding up to $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts by the end of December. If the committee is unsuccessful at striking an agreement, or if Congress rejects it, a trigger mechanism will kick in to cut a total of $1.2 trillion from domestic and security spending.

The Sunlight Foundation said the Budget Control Act imposes “few transparency requirements” on the new committee. The group made five “at minimum” requests to leaders in order to maintain transparency.

One request is for official meetings and hearings to be webcast live and archived on the Internet. In addition, the foundation wants the text of legislation and reports resulting from committee work to be available 72 hours before final committee votes.

Sunlight also said members of the panel should have to disclose contacts with lobbyists. The letter specifically calls for committee members and their staff to reveal all contacts with lobbyists or “other powerful interests” daily online. Contact includes any “written communications and documents.”

Finances should be disclosed as well, Miller said, to “prevent even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

“Public interest in the Committee’s work could hardly be greater, and the public, along with Members of Congress, must be able to evaluate its work, not just its final product,” Miller wrote.