With the budget vote-a-rama anticipated to consume the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body for the foreseeable future, Senate Judiciary Committee members Thursday had resigned themselves to doing the people’s business behind closed doors — until the Fourth Estate weighed in.
A Senate GOP aide alerted press that because of the ongoing floor action, a planned open executive session was being downgraded to an off-the-record huddle within the chamber.
“Because of the location and limited space for this meeting, the proceedings will only be accessible to people with floor privileges,” staff warned via email.
Per a committee spokesman, the procedural audible caused some reporters, including CQ Roll Call scribe Niels Lesniewski, to raise a red flag. “We did have a couple of other reporters ask us if they’d be able to check in,” aide Taylor Foy said. But Lesniewski, he noted, was one of the most outspoken.
The Senate leadership reporter urged committee staff to try and find an alternative venue for the meeting, noting that Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, is one of the most vocal advocates of transparency in government.
Foy told HOH he knew late Wednesday that space near the Senate floor would be at a premium, so he began searching for any available real estate to accommodate the Judiciary markup.
A plan to shuffle folks over to the Vice President’s Room was, apparently, nixed by the administration. Team Judiciary finally worked it to have the full committee meeting take place in the Lyndon B. Johnson Room (S-211) — “where credentialed press are welcome,” staff pointed out — beginning at 1:30 p.m.
“We are glad that we are going to be able to uphold that standard,” Foy said of Grassley’s sunshine-friendly personal philosophy.
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