Signs Letter to Senate Leadership requesting open, public meetings
Aug 04 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and seven other Senators wrote a letter to Senate leadership asking that all meetings of the new joint congressional committee created by the “Budget Control Act” be open to the public and available for television broadcast. The Senators also expressed concern about the closed-door nature of the joint committee meetings.
“The American people sent us up here to rein in spending and get our fiscal house in order. While we are hopeful that this new committee will find substantive savings that helps get our economy back on track, it is imperative that American taxpayers have a seat at the table through a transparent process that holds the committee responsible for its work,” Boozman said.
In the letter, the Senators express concern that “revenue increases, could be subject to the Committee’s recommendations. If our colleagues wish to raise taxes or propose spending cuts, the American people have a right to see that process unfold.”
The letter is cosigned by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Boozman (R-AR), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and David Vitter (R-LA). These Senators are original co-sponsors of the Budget Control Joint Committee Transparency Act, legislation introduced by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). This bill mandates that proceedings of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction be transparent and open to the public.
Below is the full text of the letter:
Full text of the letter below:
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:
The Budget Control Act (S.637) signed into law on August 2, 2011, creates a new joint congressional committee entrusted with recommending and ultimately crafting legislation to reduce our deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. We support addressing our national debt and warding off what has been called the “most predictable economic crisis” in our nation’s history. However, we are united in our concern about the authority granted to this committee.
As we understand it, this Committee essentially has the ability to craft their list of recommendations without any joint committee jurisdictions and without an open committee process. Furthermore, these recommendations are not subject to debate or an amendment process afforded the majority of legislation considered in the Senate.
We remain concerned that all aspects of the federal budget, including revenue increases, could be subject to the Committee’s recommendations. If our colleagues wish to raise taxes or propose spending cuts, the American people have a right to see that process unfold.
We ask you, as two of the appointers of the Committee, to ensure that all meetings and hearings are done in a transparent manner through advanced public notification, public attendance and live television broadcasts. Meetings will include any time a quorum of members are present to discuss committee related matters whether it be in person, over the phone or via teleconference.
All Americans should have the ability to see how the Committee crafts a concrete plan for our fiscal future. As original cosponsors of the Budget Control Joint Committee Transparency Act (S.1501), we stand firm in our belief that the public should understand how their tax dollars are being spent, which requires an open process rather than a series of closed-door meetings.
We recognize the very serious dangers posed by our nation’s debt and share your commitment to addressing it. As you begin to craft the Committee, we ask that you allow this process to unfold before the American people through an open debate. We remain committed to this issue and hope that it will be resolved prior to consideration of S. 1501.
In order to meet our nation’s financial obligations, this body must meet its obligation to the American people to do the work we were sent here to do. We look forward to your response to this request.