Both Parties Oppose Supercommittee’s Secrecy

Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011 04:35 PM

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Congressional Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on much these days, but there is bipartisan consensus on one crucial point: The powerful committee that is seeking ways to reduce the federal budget deficit is doing too much of its work behind closed doors.

And this secrecy could make it tougher for this 12-member supercommittee to win acceptance for its recommendations from the public and from other members of Congress, reports the New York Times.

“The American people deserve to know what is happening in this committee,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. “These negotiations should be fully open.”

With just six weeks remaining to hash out a plan to reduce future deficits by at least $1.2 trillion, the supercommittee has convened just two public hearings but has not taken any testimony from the public.

Committee members, who deliberate behind closed doors and typically avoid talking to journalists, say they’re making progress toward an agreement and insist that politically charged deals are easier to strike when members are insulated from the special interests that could try to kill elements of an agreement.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., co-chairwoman of the committee, said the panel will vote publicly on its final recommendations but needs to deliberate behind closed doors so members could be “open and honest with each other.”

But Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said it should be called the “super-secret committee.”

“We are opposed to inside baseball,” he said. “That’s what we are seeing in this supercommittee.”

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