Washington (CNN) - The top Republican in the House of Representatives is backing a move by C-SPAN to allow television coverage of House-Senate health care reform negotiations.
In a December 30 letter to Democratic and Republican congressional leadership, C-SPAN Chairman Brian Lamb requested that they "open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage."
C-SPAN is a non-profit cable entity largely devoted to coverage of Congress.
House Minority Leader John Boehner supports C-SPAN's move, saying "hard-working families won't stand for having the future of their health care decided behind closed doors."
"Secret deliberations are a breeding ground for more of the kickbacks, shady deals and special-interest provisions that have become business as usual in Washington. Too much is at stake to have a final bill built on payoffs and pork-barrel spending," added Boehner, in a letter to Lamb that was released Tuesday.
Democrats say it's impossible to predict what kind of media coverage might be possible, given that it is unclear at best if there will be any formal negotiations between the House and Senate to merge the two chambers' health care reform bills into one piece of legislation.
"We will continue to keep the American people informed," said Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a member of the House Democratic leadership.
"There has never been a more open process for any legislation," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But "we will do what is necessary to pass the bill."
Pelosi and Van Hollen spoke to reporters Tuesday, after huddling with other House Democratic leaders.
Top Democrats are prepared to short-circuit the traditional legislative process and exclude their GOP counterparts during final congressional health care deliberations, senior Democratic sources have told CNN. Democrats are trying to prevent the Republicans from using Senate rules to slow the push for final passage of a comprehensive reform bill, the sources added.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs refused to weigh in on Lamb's request, saying he had not read the letter.
UPDATE: A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defended the Democrats' transparency record during the health care debate, and dismissed Republican criticism as hypocritical. He did not indicate any shift in the senator's decision.
"Senator Reid appreciates C-SPAN's commitment to ensuring transparency and we will continue to work to ensure that the American people have access to the work of their elected representatives," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said in a Tuesday statement.
Manley suggested the drafting of health care reform legislation "has set new standards for transparency," and slammed the GOP: "(W)hat should truly concern the American people is the Republicans' shamelessly transparent strategy to stop reform at all costs by relying on misinformation and myths. Their ploys are broadcast on C-SPAN for all of America to see, as much of it happens on the Senate floor."
–CNN's Dana Bash, Alan Silverleib, Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
that is a good idea,,, no more back room deals....
There once was a fella named Boehner
Who'd do anything for a donor
I'm willing to bet
He's somebody's pet
And the insurance firms are his owner
Have a nice day! ;)
I'm looking forward to the looney, over the top liberal comments here in support of dealing a "deal" behind closed doors.
"Democrats say it's impossible to predict what kind of media coverage might be possible, given that it is unclear at best if there will be any formal negotiations between the House and Senate to merge the two chambers' health care reform bills into one piece of legislation."
If that statement were true, this bill is dead. What did the Dem leaders mean about "formal negotiations". Can we expect more "non-formal" back door deals and shennanigans that we observed in the Senate?
No-Bama...stop selling us out!
In December, the number of Americans identifying themselves as Democrats fell to the lowest level recorded in more than seven years of monthly tracking by Rasmussen Reports.
If Boehner says it's what he wants, then they must do the opposite thing. He's up to no good as usual.
Yes, because we all know Republicans have been all about transparency during their reign. HAHAHAHAHA. Sorry. But really, LOL.
Why? Does Boner want to present the GOP's ideas of what should be in the plan? That shouldn't take long.
I thought Obama was going to be for open government and reach across the aisle?
They [the relics] only like closed doors when they are in charge. Put up the hurdles, Americans still TRUST the demos to do the better job of cleaning "house". Sam
Boehner doesn't know the Declaration of Independence from Civil Rights which clearly makes him unqualified to speak for Americans.
OK, under one irrevocable condition:
Once they start C-Span will have the right to do this with any and every lawmaking process, starting with party meetings to discuss strategy...
If you're going to be transparent, BE TRANSPARENT... I mean REALLY, trying to "get" Democrats by exposing this process is PARTISAN. I'm against partisanship in this context. It only serves to demean an already ugly process...
SO, if you are willing to let C-Span have access to every aspect of EVERYTHING (except National Security issues) – ALL THE TIME, then I say let them cover this...
It does not matter if it is on c-span or not,,,. The Dems are going to do what they want , no matter what "WE THE PEOPLE......." want......
The GOP now wants to open the discussions to the public. During debate on health care reform their only proposal was to Die Quickly.
John McCain's position on the health care system in this country – it's fine, don't change thing.
Only one GOP member in the Senate & House voted for health care reform – despicable!
Republicans aren't offering any solutions to the debate, so why is Boehner so interested in have the negotiations televised.
Typical! Change the rules of the game as you go to fit the needs and wants of teh GOP, after all they come before God or Country RIght?
If Boehner wants it than I am assured that the informal conference is the way to go!
He only wants it televised so cons can filibuster and get free air time.
After all, what have Boehner and the republiklans, other than trying to STOP legislation, ANY legislation, contributed? Nothing.
Cons walk out of committee meetings, even though they are PAID to be there, they bad mouth President during a time of war and state publicly the party agenda is for the President to fail and the head of the RNC states "bi-partisanship is overrated".
Keep the republiklans out of the conference, after all, it was the shrub and republiklans that stated proudly "we do not negotiate with terrorists"!
Let that apply to "domestic terrorists" of the "christian cabal " as well.
This over exposed tan clown is just upset that he has no say in passing this bill. I guess he won't be getting his kick backs this go round.
This is just more stall tactics from the GOP losers
oooo now you want to talk!!
What, Rep Boner is worried about kick-backs? He's practically on the insurance companies payroll. Rep. Bonehead never wanted CSPAN allowed when the GOP was in charge. How things change. What an idiot!
This poor excuse for a legislator is up to his usual negative tricks. His blatant hypocrisy is evident from the fact that when the Republicans were in charge not only were important meetings held in secrecy without cameras, often the Democratic members of committees were not told of the meetings and in one case were forcibly kept out when they found out about the meetings. So much for his suddenly getting the light....
Little Johnny, you had your chance this year, and you chose to destroy every attempt to get this done. Although it would be fun to watch you morons obstruct the will of the people.
He ought to know about shady deals the republicans have been dealing with them for years. and i guess orange man is still getting his daily dose of sun to stay tanned in the winter. another of his lies. how about a tanning bed,
While I agree that payoffs and pork-barrel spending needs to be checked and triple checked if anyone should know about secret deliverations it's boner and the repugs. Most of what happens in Congress is behind closed doors. This is different because . . . . .?
Is he part of the C Street secret group? I can't remember since CNN has never thought important enough to follow that clique.