Thursday, August 4, 2011

Buchanan wants debt 'super-committee' to meet in the 'Sunshine'

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said Thursday he will introduce legislation that would require the Congress's budget-deficit-reducing "super-committee" be fully accessible to the public.

“Too much is at stake to allow this 12-member committee to make critical decisions about the country’s future behind closed doors,” Buchanan said in a statement. “We need to make sure this new committee meets in public as they discuss how to cut $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The public and the press have a right to see this process unfold.”

Buchanan said his bill would require that all hearings and meetings held by the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction "are done in a transparent manner," through live television broadcasts, advanced public notification, and public attendance." Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is sponsoring similar legislation in the Senate.

Congressional leaders have until Aug. 16 to appoint the members of the committee, and the panel will have until Nov. 23 to report to Congress with at least $1.2 trillion in budget reductions over 10 years. The House and Senate would then take an up-or-down vote on the whole package, with no chance to add amendments.

Buchanan's effort is similar to one he lead in 2009 to ensure to that deliberations on proposed health care reform be conducted in the open. His resolution then had 172 co-sponsors in the House.

After all, Buchanan said, that's how they do it in Florida.

“The State of Florida leads the nation with one of the toughest right-to-know laws in the country,” said Buchanan. “Florida’s strong Sunshine Law guards against back-room deals and secret negotiations by government officials. I urge congressional leaders to follow Florida’s lead and let sun shine on the joint committee.”

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