Upon taking control of the U.S. House in January, Republicans implemented sweeping reforms to make the People’s House more transparent and accessible. Now they’ll have a chance to bolster their good-government credentials with the newly created Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Twelve lawmakers from the House and Senate will serve on the joint committee, according to language in the Budget Control Act. Its goal is to make recommendations to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion.
The Sunlight Foundation, an organization that advocates for greater government openness and transparency, earlier today outlined five transparency priorities for House and Senate leaders to consider as they organize the new committee:
- Official meetings and hearings should be webcast online.
- Recommendations should be posted for 72 hours before a final committee vote.
- Committee members should disclose meetings with lobbyists.
- Committee members should post campaign contributions online.
- Committee members and staffers should be post financial disclosures online.
Lawmakers are already responding with legislation. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced the Super Committee Sunshine Act shortly after President Obama signed the Budget Control Act this afternoon. Vitter’s proposal would require members of the new committee to disclose campaign donations of more than $1,000 while they serve on the panel.
“Given the important work this committee will be doing over the next four months, it’s just plain good government for the public to know what special interests are trying to influence the committee,” said Vitter, who opposed the Budget Control Act.
Vitter’s bill would apply the Federal Election Commission’s disclosure requirements to the committee. For instance, political candidates and their leadership PACs must publicly disclose donations every 48 hours during the 12 days before a primary and 12 days before a general election. Those same rules would apply to members of Congress serving on the committee.