Monday, June 27, 2011

In budget debate, Alabama Senator sees pattern of secret negotiations

While lawmakers continue to call for a budget deal that addresses the country’s growing deficit, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is taking it one step further by calling for that deal to be negotiated in public.
Sessions, who is the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, has been one of the most outspoken critics of the stalled budget process in the Senate. But in an interview with The Daily Caller, Sessions had a different target.
“I acknowledge that people can enter into private discussions to help them form and reach certain compromises, but what we’ve been seeing is a pattern of hugely important issues being negotiated by a very small number of people, then produced to Congress for rapid passage before some emergency event occurs,” said Sessions.
“This is not good legislative work.”
A look back at the Obama Administration shows Sessions may have a fair point.
The stimulus bill in February 2009 was worked out by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in closed meetings.
The president’s number-one agenda item upon assuming office was to pass comprehensive health care reform. The bill was negotiated by a few select Democrat congressmen behind closed doors without C-SPAN cameras,, then presented to Congress.
And this past spring, the deal that extended the Continuing Resolution and avoided a government shutdown was worked out in private between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner, and President Obama. It was then “dropped into the legislative hopper with crisis providing motivation” to pass it or else.

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