Manzullo Calls for Open Hearings on Health Care Reform Reconciliation

When on house of a legislative body like Congress passes one version of a bill and the other passes a different version, a conference committee is set up.

When W. Robert Blair was Illinois House Speaker from during my first term in Springfield (1973-75), there were actual meetings. I had some bills that went to conference committee and was actually put on the committee.

Later speakers just had staff members bring around whatever they wanted to put on the House floor for a vote soliciting signatures of reliable conference committee appointees.

According to an NPR segment I heard yesterday, most of the differences in the health care reform legislation will be decided by having a Democratic Party staffer from the Senate meet with his or her counterpart from the House.

The major differences will be determined by actual Democratic legislators meeting in person, but behind closed doors.

The Democratic Party apologist being interviewed said that was fair because no Republicans in the Senate and only one in the House had voted for the bills in question.

I seem to remember a campaign pledge from President Barack Obama that such negotiations would be held in public. C-SPAN coverage..

Now comes 16th District Congressman Don Manzullo with a call for negotiations to be in open session. Here is his press release:

Manzullo Signs Petition to Force Open Health Care Talks
Resolution would require Democrat leaders to negotiate bill in public

[WASHINGTON]  Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL) today joined many of his colleagues in signing onto a discharge petition that would force Democrat leaders to come out from the shroud of secrecy and start negotiating the massive health care bill in public.

The resolution, H.Res. 847, would require Congressional Democrat leaders and the Administration to start negotiating the health care bill in a public forum open to the media.

So far, 151 Members of Congress have signed the petition. Once that number reaches 218, Democrat leaders would have to open the talks to the public.

Since the House and Senate approved different versions of the bill in November and December, Democrat leaders from the House, Senate and Obama Administration have been holed up behind closed doors trying to work out a compromise version of the bill to present to the President for his signature.

On the campaign trail last year, then-Sen. Barack Obama pledged that

health care reform negotiations would be broadcast on C-SPAN so the “American people will know what’s going on.”

On Dec. 30, C-SPAN called on congressional leaders to carry out President Obama’s “C-SPAN pledge” and allow coverage of the health care talks. Two weeks later, the talks are still behind closed doors.

“In all my years in Congress, I have never seen an issue that has invoked as many constituent calls and as much emotion as this health care issue.

“It has the potential to affect every American and dramatically change the way health care services are paid for and delivered in our country. With this much at stake, Democrat leaders should honor the President’s campaign pledge and allow C-SPAN coverage of the negotiations so all Americans can see what could affect them for the rest of their lives.”


Manzullo Calls for Open Hearings on Health Care Reform Reconciliation — 4 Comments

  1. I do think that the WH did their best to make the initial negotiations as transparent as possible in the beginning by stating goals they wanted to see achieved in the health bill and allowing the House and Senate to create their own versions of it, and both Houses are covered by CSPAN. There was even an ABC special with the President where members of the health industry spoke out their concerns with no censors.

    Unfortunately, I think transparency went out the door when certain members of Congress that called themselves Democrats decided that they wanted personalized deals in order to guarantee their vote. I also don’t think the CSPAN pledge was supposed to apply to conference committee, since there was no guarantee that there would be a conference committee.

    Perhaps as constituents of the 16th district, though, we should all sign a petition to Mr. Manzullo, since he has ignored HIS pledge that he would serve members of the 16th district and their best interests. This district voted for President Obama in 2008, and all Mr. Manzullo has done is say “NO” to giving him any support ever since, making bipartisanship practically impossible. The worst was Mr. Manzullo’s spectacle in which he paraded around with the initial House bill and complained that he had to read it. You mean, he had to actually do his job?

  2. I’m all for transparency–EVERYTHING should be accessible via C-SPAN or on the internet–but let’s be real. The Republicans have no interest in “negotiating” toward a bill – their intent is to delay any health care legislation forever.

    It’s too bad. I knew that Republicans were generally “stick in the mud” types who abhor change at all costs, but the Republicans in congress have really taken it to new levels.

    Good luck, Manzullo, in being treated as a serious legislator by anyone outside the 26% right wing contingent.

  3. I see how this works..Obama lies through his teeth about broadcasting health care negotiations on CSPAN….Democrats give him a pass then proceed to whine and cry about Republicans

  4. Oh..and Congressman Manzullo….The Democrat definition of negotiating…”we won, you lost..bend over and grab your ankles…thank you very much”…..Am I close Congressman?…

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