Thereís never been such a powerful committee in Congress. And because it operates outside the normal legislative process for the House and Senate, itís even more important to function in a transparent fashion.
Open meetings are just one way. Transparency advocates at the Sunlight Foundation also recommend the 12 panel members disclose meetings with lobbyists, reveal campaign contributions and post their financial disclosures as well as those for committee staff.
The final report should be available online for at least 72 hours before the committee votes on it.
Reps. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) have already urged their colleagues to take these steps. Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) have a bill requiring committee members to post campaign donations of more than $1,000 within 48 hours.
As the hard work begins, Americans should demand the 12 chosen lawmakers share their work in a public setting in a way that taxpayers can contribute. The other Members of Congress should be equally interested.
After all, they will be the ones faced with making a decision on the final package.
Rob Bluey is director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.