Super Congress rules permit closed-door meetings

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Not all meetings of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will be open to the public, according to joint rules adopted Sept. 8 during the first meeting of the Super Congress.  

To the "maximum extent practicable," however, the committee will provide audio and video coverage of meetings to the public and votes will be held in open meetings, the rules state.

According to the document, the committee has agreed to establish and maintain a publicly-available website, and make its publications--such as reports, amendment text and voting records--available there.

Committee co-chairs are required to publicly announce the date, place, time and subject of hearings no less than 7 days before the hearing. Witnesses appearing before the committee will be required to file a written testimony at least two calendar days prior to the appearance, adds the document

Transparency among committee members is still too opaque for some members of Congress, however. On Sept. 7, Reps. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) introduced the Deficit Committee Transparency Act, H.R. 2860. The bill would require Super Congress members and their staff to publicly disclose meetings with lobbyists and special interests, to publicly disclose contributions, to create a committee website to post disclosure information and to live stream hearings, and publish proposed legislative language online 72 hours before voting.

"For there to be any amount of confidence in the decisions made by this committee, Congress has to ensure transparency exists at all levels of their dealings and deliberations," said Loebsack in a statement.

For more:
- see the joint rules
- see the proposed legislation
- see the Loebsack statement

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