By Seung Min Kim
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling on all sessions of the yet-to-be-named deficit super committee to be open to the public and aired online.
A key feature of the debt ceiling agreement signed into law by President Barack Obama this week creates a committee of 12 members, divided equally between both parties and chambers, tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion more in deficit cuts by Thanksgiving.
The law doesn't require the meetings to be public.
“The American people are watching to see if the bipartisan joint committee will develop a plan to responsibly reduce the deficit in a balanced way while promoting economic growth and creating jobs,” Pelosi said in a statement issued late Friday. “The work of this committee will affect all Americans, and its deliberations should be open [to] the press, to the public and webcast.
“Any acceptance of the committee proposal will be dependent on the ability of the American people to fully view its proceedings,” she added.
The House's top Democrat didn't comment directly on Standard and Poor's downgrade of the United States' credit rating on Friday night but noted that credit agencies consider transparency a key component of a nation's creditworthiness.
Other debt ceiling negotiations earlier this year were held behind closed doors, including those led by Vice President Joe Biden and the discussions with the top eight congressional leaders after the Biden talks collapsed.
Pelosi's request echoes those of Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John Boozman of Arkansas, Dean Heller of Nevada, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah and David Vitter of Louisiana, who urged Senate leaders to ensure the public can attend the joint committee's meetings and watch live broadcasts. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) also has made a similar request.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Saturday: “The president believes it is important that our elected leaders come together to strengthen our economy and put our nation on a stronger fiscal footing.
“The bipartisan compromise on deficit reduction was an important step in the right direction. Yet, the path to getting there took too long and was, at times, too divisive. We must do better to make clear our nation's will, capacity and commitment to work together to tackle our major fiscal and economic challenges.'
Congressional leaders will make their picks for the joint committee by Aug. 16.