Even as lawmakers wrangle over the details of the work of the so-called supercommittee, the top House Democrat is calling for more openness in the decision-making of the bipartisan deficit-reduction panel.
Created by last summer’s federal debt deal, the members of the supercommittee have just until Thanksgiving to find $1.2 trillion over 10 years in deficit-reduction.
Members of the panel, known officially as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, have been conducting all of their important negotiating entirely behind closed doors.
Predictable partisan jostling began this week as details of those talks began coming public.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi warned that the final package put forward by the 12-member supercommittee “cannot be a product of secrecy.”
“You know, they may want to narrow issues that will be made that judgments have to be made over, but that has to be done in a public way. And I think you are you absolutely right; in order for our Members to embrace this, they have to know more about it and know why it has come to the place that it has,” she told a reporter Thursday. “And we hope that it will be, as I said, big, bold, and balanced, but, at some point, the discussion has to be more public.”
Pelosi is only the highest ranking lawmaker to complain about the super-secrecy of the supercommittee. Others also have already done so. However, the Deficit Committee Transparency Act, which would require final committee recommendations to be made publicly available online for at least 72 hours before a committee vote, has just five cosponsors in the House and has not even been introduced in the Senate.
Supercommittee members might want to remain private as they narrow their issues down to what the “real decisions will be,” but hammering out those final recommendations “should be in the public domain.”
Pelosi named three Democrats to the supercommittee, Reps. Xavier Becerra of California, James Clyburn of South Carolina, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
She says she continues to have “great confidence” in those three members.
“They have knowledge, they have judgment. They share the values of our Caucus, and they know that we want to have an agreement, a big agreement,” Pelosi says.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.