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.