Walden continues push for “˜common sense’ transparency, time to read the bill
By Congressman Greg Walden,
WASHINGTON, D.C. “” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today continued his push for greater transparency in Congress by signing a petition to air negotiations over the House and Senate healthcare bills on C-SPAN so the public can watch the debate. “We are talking about 1/6 of the country’s economy and a bill that will touch the lives of every American,” Walden said. “The press, public, and members of Congress deserve to see the negotiations between the House and Senate bills. The President promised that transparency during the campaign, and it’s time for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to deliver it.”
During his campaign, President Obama promised on at least eight separate occasions to air the healthcare negotiations on C-SPAN. On December 30, C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb asked Speaker Pelosi (D-San Francisco) to fulfill that promise by allowing cameras into the rooms where a select few Democrats in Congress and the House are holding negotiations. Speaker Pelosi turned down the request, and negotiations have continued in secret in the nation’s capital.
The petition, filed today, requires 218 signatures (a simple majority of the House) to be successful. If every Republican signs the petition, as expected, 40 Democrats must also lend their names to the transparency movement for the petition to take effect.
Click here to watch Walden talk with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren about the need for negotiations to be aired on C-SPAN.
A continuing transparency effort
This movement comes on the heels of a separate transparency push by Walden to post legislation online for at least 72 hours before a vote to give the press, public, and members of Congress enough time to review it.
That effort and the wave of support it garnered from the public put enough pressure on Democratic leaders to force them to hold the vote on the House healthcare bill 72 hours after the bill was unveiled.
“That’s a partial victory,” Walden said. “But for a bill of this magnitude that is so important to the future of this country, we really need weeks to review it, not days. Even now, we’re still uncovering problematic features in the House bill, like a $2,000 marriage penalty for middle class couples. The American people deserve the time to fully vet the legislation before the government launches a takeover of their healthcare.”
Given the budget woes the state of Oregon faces, Walden sent a letter to Governor Kulongoski asking how the state plans to pay for the bills’ massive expansion of Medicaid that could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. A copy of that letter is attached.
“We’re having a hard time figuring out how this is going to affect the state of Oregon because we just don’t know what the final language of the bill will look like,” Walden said. “This is a horrible way to go about this process. We should require more transparency.”
Today, Walden also signed a letter spearheaded by Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) that asks for at least 14 days to review the House-Senate compromise bill before a vote.
“The American people have a right to read and review the final health care bill in a time that is honest, reasonable and fair,” the letter states. “And members of Congress deserve a reasonable time to review this legislation in order to fully understand the bill’s ramifications on our current health care system prior to casting their votes. This is a transparent, simple and common sense request.
Click here to watch Walden’s interview on the “˜Read the Bill’ effort.
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S PROMISES TO MAKE HEALTHCARE NEGOTIATIONS PUBLIC
1. “Not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so the American people can see what the choices are, because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process.”
January 2008, Democratic Debate
2. “These negotiations will be on C-SPAN. The public will be part of the conversation and will see the choices that are being made.”
January 2008, SF Chronicle
3. “I respect what the Clintons tried to do in 1993 in moving health reform forward. But they made on really big mistake, and that is they took all their people and all their experts into a room and then they closed the door. We will work on this process publicly. It’ll be on C-SPAN. It’ll be streaming over the net.”
November 14, 2008, Google Q&A
4. “We’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who is making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.”
August 8, 2008, Virginia town hall
5. “But here’s the thing: we’re going to do all these negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people will be able to watch these negotiations.”
March 1, 2008, Ohio town hall
6. “We will have a public process for forming this plan. It will be televised on C-SPAN. I can’t guarantee you that it will be exciting so not everyone will be watching. But it will be transparent and accountable to the American people.”
November 27, 2007, Keene Sentinel
7. “I want the negotiations to take place on C-SPAN.”
May 2008, St. Petersburg Times
8. “So I’ll put forward my plan but what I’ll say is, “˜Look, if you’ve got better ideas, I’m happy to listen to them.’ But all this will be done on C-SPAN in front of the public.”
April 25, 2008, Indiana town hall
Representative Greg Walden represents Oregon’s Second Congressional District, which is comprised of 20 counties in eastern, southern, and central Oregon. He is a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.