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Some Members Not Content on the Sidelines

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), for one, last week called for the proceedings of the committee 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 Friday. “The work of this Committee will affect all Americans, and its deliberations should be open the press, to the public and webcast.”

Following suit was a pair of junior Members from both sides of the aisle. Reps. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), a co-founder of the House Transparency Caucus, are gathering signatures for a letter to House leadership outlining a four-point plan to keep the committee transparent.

In addition to public webcasts of meetings, the lawmakers want final legislative language of the committee’s product to be posted online for 72 hours before a committee vote.

They are also suggesting that committee members disclose all campaign contributions and meetings between lobbyists or other interest groups at least once per week.

The committee’s “endeavors are going to be accompanied by incredible pressure, often from special-interest groups,” Renacci said in an interview. “I think it’s important that it’s an open process, that we make sure not only that America sees what they’re doing, but that we see what every individual Members’ views and thoughts are.”

Republican Sens. David Vitter (La.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) are backing a similar effort, co-sponsoring a bill that would require the 12 members of the committee to disclose all campaign contributions above $1,000 within 48 hours while serving on the committee.

Vitter and Heller also joined Republican freshman Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), John Boozman (Ark.) Ron Johnson (Wis.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Mike Lee (Utah) in writing a letter to McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asking that the proceedings of the committee be public.

Heller also paired with Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) to write a letter to each of the committee members to make public the committee’s proceedings.

Buchanan has said he will introduce legislation similar to the Vitter-Heller bill in the House.

Correction: Aug. 12, 2011

An earlier version of this story misstated the Member leading the group of liberal Senators in writing a letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell about putting jobs first. It was Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

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