January 5th, 2010
04:34 PM ET
8 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. Carl

    Maybe I'm confused but I thought that C-span asked for the proceedings to be televised, not the Republicans. I also seem to remember someone promising that they would be. I cant believe so many commenter are happy to be played as suckers, maybe Joe Wilson was right. I'm fed up vote out all incumbents.

    January 5, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. Cindy

    There were sooo many Republican concessions in the HealthCare bill. Despite these concessions, they still voted, enmass against the bill. It does not matter one iota, what the Republicans want. They're not going to vote for it, period. They never intended on voting for it, ever.

    That they are demanding anything else from it, be it in the form of additional concessions, transparency, or what ever... they do so only to disrupt it's passage. They only do it for their own self-interest, not the country's.

    What ever it takes... combine the 2 bills... and pass it already. It's time has come.

    January 5, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. Mike in MN

    Obama promised the health care bill would be negotiated in front of C-Span from the start. It was promises of this kind of change that got him elected. So far almost the whole process has been for Democrats to write the bill in secret behind closed doors and then to negotiate changes behind closed doors in secrete to get the necessary votes from Democrats to pass the bills in the House and Senate. None of this has been on C-Span. And when confronted by this fact, all the Democrats from Obama to Pelosi and all in between lie and say this has been the most open process in history. And offer no response to why if won't be on C-Span. The truth is it won't be on C-Span becasue the process is corrupt and the Democrats know it.

    January 5, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  4. Tina

    Obama PROMISED any deals to be in CSPAN, so as a man with word, then Obama should execute his PROMISE. If he doesn't then he is one man without an honor for he can keep his PROMISE.

    I'd be glad to see how much money Reid, Pelosi, Bernie Frank, Nelson, etc. will get as part of the negotiation. I'd be watching how much assets this guys will have at end of 2010 because they already took Americans money since stimulus, etc......

    January 5, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  5. Gerry NH

    The democrats will not allow open sessions on health care. They will do it behind closed door so that they can bribe and extort more democrats to get the votes yhey need. Lousy SINators.

    January 5, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. ttbala


    You should know aboute secredt deals behind closed doors won't you, your party was engaged in this kind of dealings for the past 12 years, however, as usual you try to turn everything around and lie to the public, the only reason this is happening, is because you republican morons will try again to deny what the american people need most health care, so if you can't do anything, which is usually the case, shut your trap and let other people help us.

    January 5, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  7. B

    It really doesn’t matter what the Republicans understand about anything. They have made it perfectly clear that they are non players and are trying their best to back the failure of the President at any cost !

    Very disgusting..

    January 5, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. Paul from Phoenix

    Obama ran on the promise that these talks would be made public. Now, there are happening behind closed doors.

    People...GET OFF THE RIPPING BUSH BANDWAGON!!!!! Bush is yesterday's news. He did not make Obama break another promise.

    Republicans never held Bush responsible for his actions, and his presidency was a failure. Dems are doing the same to Obama. It is time to hold this president accountable for HIS actions.

    January 5, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  9. Matt

    Why are most of the democrat-leaning posters arguing to keep the debate behind closed doors? Even Obama claimed that his administration would push for transparency. Sorry, but our 'democratic' representatives (Pelosi, Boxer, Rangle, Reid, Murtha, Waxman, Waters... and Obama) have proven to be some of the most corrupt during my lifetime.

    CSPAN has been covering this stuff forever.

    January 5, 2010 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  10. GOPBslapper

    The best thing Bohner can do is step away from the Spray Tan booth and resign ASAP. An Orange Senator is never a good thing!

    January 5, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  11. Ex-NC-Pub

    Where was his "transparency" during the last eight years... HYPOCRIT!

    January 5, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  12. Jim Hall

    I believe that Boehner needs to worry about that poorly done hair piece that he has on his head rather than health care. It is so poorly done. It stands out like a sore thumb on TV. I also think that McConnell needs to get a face lift to get that smurk off his face that he always has on his face rather than health care. These two are frick and frack of the the republican party. Yes to health care. What the people need to do is demand that anyone at this level of government that these two work at regardless of party need to have all of their benefits yanked away from them. Then let them run out of money and find a way to pay for a $200,000.00 tripple heart by pass surgery. We were republicans that never voted for the village idiot and his co-horts that this country suffered under for 8 years and never will vote republican again. Go Obama go Jim Hall Kansas City Missouri.

    January 5, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  13. Jerry

    Why can't we get some ACTUAL reporting on this president instead of the democratic party line? You people do a diservice to this country and the sheeple that watch you. This plan will further banrupt this country. If it's so great, why are the dems cutting deals and negotiating in secret??

    January 5, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  14. They call me "tater salad"

    This idiot isn't even remotely educated enough to know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (which should be a minimum requirement to serve in Congress) so I just can't bring myself to taking this clown seriously......He's nothing more than a spray tanned MORON who basically just told us all how genuinely STUPID he really is........I wish you idiots would wake up and get a clue!!!!!

    January 5, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  15. Jim

    If that is the case, I would like to see the Republican National Committee and all the other right wing groups open their meetings to the public. In case there is some blind person that hasn't noticed this, the Republicans have decided behind closed doors to completely obstruct everything in an effort to keep Democrats from solving our Republican created problems. I would love to see those dicsussions in public.

    January 5, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  16. Mike Dallas

    Not one repuke voted for the health care reform bills in the Senate and only Cao voted for it in the House.

    Only the folks that are FOR the measures get to help decide which parts gets merged into the final bill.

    Therefore, you have no reason to attend, you have nothing to add because your party of NO has been against ANY reform from the start of this Congress.

    January 5, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  17. Jane

    It will only be open, transparent, and bipartison when congress allows CSPAN to cover all the discussions, meetings, etc. Then we can really see what is going on...enough of the closed door crap. I want to see and hear what is actually going on.

    January 5, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    This is funny ... Boehner and the Republicans have done everything in their power to stop meaningful health care reform. They don't want to help ... they don't want to be a part of the solution; they only know how to be part of the problem ...

    They do, however, know how to whine – which is exactly what they're doing here.

    If the Republicans wanted to be part of health care reform, they should have done something more than obstruct.

    Take your toys and GO HOME! (Bunch of babies ...)

    January 5, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    Perspective mentions in his/her post the obstruction manual Senator Gregg wrote; it's dated December 1, 2009, and clearly instructs his Senate colleagues to do everything they can to block health care.

    The Republicans don't have any ideas on how to help our country .... but, boy, do they have lots and lots of ideas on how to try to make our president and our country fail.

    GOP = What A Bunch of Losers

    January 5, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  20. I can't believe this . . .

    Do any of you really know what is in these two bills? Will any of you really know what would be in a "combined" bill? Both were cobbled behind the shroud of secrecy. And you don't care??????? Because you don't like Republicans???????? You'd rather wake up one morning with a monstrosity that you didn't understand, one that will neither give you what you want (in whatever fashion), and one that will zing your pocketbook to the moon.

    This is a HUGE legislation - and you don't want to hear in detail what it entails? Just because you want to "trust" the party you want to trust? OMG - what a sad state for America!

    January 5, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. tee

    The same old repug haters are spouting the same old bull....day in and day out......just like their representatives......a whole lot of noise....nothing of value......same type of representation that will come form the GOP involving healthcare.....nothing of value....its getting old and tired.

    January 5, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  22. Steve (the real one)

    We were promised an open and transparent government. This is one way to do it. Since we are going to pay for it, let's see and hear the dirty details. Come on dems open it up to the media! there's nothing to hide, right? No back door deals, no vote buying. If this such a good deal, attach no riders, cut out the pork. Let it stand on its own!

    January 5, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  23. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    Mr. Spray-Tan knows that when he ran the House everything was done behind closed doors out of sight of the Democrats and the nation.

    Enough of the disingenuous hypocrisy already you Boner!

    January 5, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  24. labtechret54

    It's funny how American's has a short memory span. Did VP Cheney held a private meeting with oil exectives in the WH,? and the press was told to keep their bloody noses out. Where were you the Republican party them?

    January 5, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  25. Albo58

    All the lib loons can whine about is is Bush years, Party of No, Gore had election stolen, etc. The bottom line is IF THE DEMOCRATS ARE THE PARTY OF TRANSPARENTCY, THEN WHY NOT TELEVISE THIS "RECONCILE" OF THIS BILL ON C-SPAN?

    January 5, 2010 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
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