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


Miller addressed the letter to Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA time for war, a time for peace — and always a time to defend America Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Soleimani killing deepens distrust between Trump, Democrats MORE (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Trumpification of the federal courts Trump to rally evangelicals after critical Christianity Today editorial Left presses 2020 Democrats to retake the courts from Trump MORE (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPoll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' Trump says impeachment trial should move 'very quickly' 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.