January 5th, 2010
04:34 PM ET
4 years ago

Boehner backs move to open health care talks to media

House Minority Leader John Boehner said Tuesday that he supports C-SPAN's efforts to broadcast health care negotiations.
House Minority Leader John Boehner said Tuesday that he supports C-SPAN's efforts to broadcast health care negotiations.

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.


Filed under: Health care • John Boehner
soundoff (126 Responses)
  1. Bub

    During the 12 years his party was in the majority in the House Represetative Boehner wasn't for open hearings on such matters. Why now John?

    January 5, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. Eric

    Didn't Candidate Obama promise that in a debate with Hillary Clinton?

    "That's what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are,"

    January 5, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. Did I read that right?

    "We will continue to keep the American people informed," said Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a member of the House Democratic leadership.

    In other words, "Shut up. We will tell you what you need to know."

    And despite what Speaker Pelosi states, it's not as open with as much information published ahead of time as the President promised during the campaign.

    But, yes, that was just the campaign. Both parties are the same and some things just don't change.

    January 5, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. Dave C - NJ

    The GOP did the same thing for 6 years. However, 2 wrongs don't make a right. I'd like to see them let the GOP continue their obstructionist ways. It only hurts them.

    Obama promised this in the campaign. He won the election. Duh.

    January 5, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. Ancient Texan

    The last things the Dems want is for the public to see the chicanery and bribery that will be going on to make the government takeover of healthcare complete. You know they will never agree to C-Span showing this circus.

    January 5, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. Hammerer

    There is no way that the Dems will allow C-SPAN to televise the corruption that it will take to get the Dems to agree on a plan. Votes for sale, Lobbyist buying Congressmen, and all of the slime that goes on with politics.
    Also why should Obama honor his word, would be the first time and it will not happen now!

    January 5, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. Franky, Land of Lincoln

    Comprehensive reform bill? O.K...

    Yeah, and I need my comprehensive reform look in order to earn my degree, nice try.

    Let the American know what's going on, show some support.

    January 5, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  8. Sandra, Atlanta

    Boehner is just too funny! Republicans are the poster children for back door shady deals done under wraps!

    January 5, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. sifto77

    "Gibbs had not read the letter"–Obama administration..... a day late and a dollar short......

    January 5, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. Matt

    Did Boehner and the Repubs advocate for the same "openness" when they were passing The Patriot Act or their pork-barrel projects? I am all for open government but dont want this term paraded around for political puposes.

    January 5, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. mike

    Boehner this is a desperate move to try an hold up the healthcare
    bill you could care less about the well being of the american public your
    only interest is to take care of the companies that line your pocket
    the republican neocons never wanted medicare

    January 5, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Nimises

    I don't care whether its on C-span or not. Nobody but public officials watch it anyway. The republicans of america will wait for Rush to spin the facts and republican congressmen will act on his lead as always. Then, democrats will spin it left and explain their views, etc. For Christ sakes! Pass the bill already.

    January 5, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  13. AEK

    I remember when the Republicans were shoving their legislative agenda down the throats of the Democrats and the American people as well, they really weren't that concerned with a fair and open discussion of the merits of that legislation. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, look who's complaining about transparency. Hypocrites!

    January 5, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. hobart

    The Republicans were invited to participate in this process from the beginning; however, the Party of No has made it abundantly clear from day one that they will say and do anything (especially lie) to prevent any form of healthcare reform from ever passing. They decided unanimously to obstruct anything and everything the Democrats in the House, Senate or Administration propose on any topic whatsoever. For this reason, they should be completely shut out from the process of reconciling the House and Senate Bills, and their protests, shenanigans and outrageous lies should henceforth be ignored.

    Why can't Repbulicans ever tell the truth?

    Why do Republicans hate America?

    January 5, 2010 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  15. What Has A Republican EVER been right about??

    HEY BONER,
    No one cares what you think!
    Signed
    The American People

    January 5, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. Jerry

    Yep, OBAMA flat-out LIED. "YOU LIE" is purely accurate and concise.

    January 5, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. GI Joe

    He got a new toupee for Christmas. Using too much "Just for men" tho, and it looks awful.

    Go away Orange Man.

    January 5, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. Jeff

    Okay, I'll try to fit it in watching C-SPAN while trying to keep my current job and taking care of a family as my wages and benefits further stagnate or decline. Thanks "compassionate conservatives".

    January 5, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  19. Tom L

    There can't be anything more childish and immature than when Democrats say things like "Why do Republicans hate America?"

    Really, you really think they hate America. Maybe, just maybe, Republicans have a different way to achieve the goals that we all share.

    Grow up and stop using a line that a 5th grader would use.

    January 5, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. Jay1975

    For all of those that say that the Repubs have not come up with any plans for healthcare should look up HR 3400. This is one of many Repub proposals that the Dems would not allow to get to the floor for discussion. The Dems are the obstructionists and all the Repubs can do is watch the madness. Do some research sheeple.

    January 5, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  21. normajean

    If there's anyone who should not have any say at this time about health care it's John Boehner. This man has said nothing positive about anything for the last twelve months and is personally someone who has been laughed at for most of that time. He is the personification of the "Party Of No".

    January 5, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. John Boehner is like Cleopatra, only he bathes in Cheetos

    Don't get too excited about the Rasmussen polls. He is doing the work for Fox and the republican party, and his results have a tendency to be a tad skewed.

    January 5, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. Perspective

    It's interesting CNN makes no mention of the GOP memo from Sen. Gregg (proof in writing) that clearly states the Republicans' continued intent to obstruct healthcare for the American people.

    Please provide the journalistic research and integrity to show your viewers the full story.

    January 5, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. Chuck in Ohio

    John Boehner never knows what is going on around him. I don't think his staff does the research or reads bills because he never knows what's in them, to hear him talk. He likes to come out in front of a mic and throw down a bunch of blank pages and say NO.
    It's a shame he is not in my district. He would be unemployed like the rest of us!

    January 5, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. Phoney, Baloney Boehner

    First, where are the recorded tapes of the healthcare talks during the Bush Administration? There are no tapes because there were no discussions–zero, zip, nada.

    Why, you ask? Because for 8 years no one talked about healthcare, the Rethugs just collected checks from the insurance companies and sat back, fat and happy. Now that the dictator and Bush are gone, the little boys are running around with their heads cut off because the Dems are thinking about the people they serve.

    Spare us the rhetoric, we know Boehner and his buddies aren't interested in healthcare. The only thing that they are interested in is getting re-elected with the big insurance donations. End of their story, but just the beginning of ours, especially in 2012.

    Change = Obama/Biden 2012.

    January 5, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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