Webb joins group of senators calling for transparency in health-care debate
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) joined a group of eight Democratic senators today in calling for greater transparency and public engagement as the health-care debate moves to the Senate floor. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) also signed a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, citing their constituents’ frustration and want for more information.
Webb and his colleagues wrote: “Whether or not our constituents agree with the direction of the debate, many are frustrated and lacking accurate information on the emerging proposals in Congress. Without a doubt, reforming health care in America is one of the most monumental and far-reaching undertakings considered by this body in decades. We believe the American public’s participation in this process is critical to our overall success of creating a bill that lowers health care costs and offers access to quality and affordable health care for all Americans.”
Specifically, the senators called for the legislative text and complete budget scores from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to be posted on a public website for review at least 72 hours prior to the first vote—and again, 72 hours before the vote on final passage of the bill in the Senate. Further, the text of all amendments filed for debate should be posted on a public website prior to commencing debate. Lastly, upon a final agreement between the House of Representatives and the Senate, a formal conference report detailing the agreement and complete CBO scores of the final bill should be made available to the public for 72 hours prior to the vote on final passage of the conference report in the Senate.
“At a time when trust in Congress and the U.S. government is unprecedentedly low, we can begin to rebuild the American people’s faith in their federal government through transparency and by actively inviting Americans to participate in the legislative process,” the senators wrote.