News Alert: C-SPAN Coverage Controversy Heats Up

Reid and Boehner Go Head-to-Head

By Justin Williams

January 6th, 2010, Fairfax, VAHouse Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has "strongly endors[ed]" a request by C-SPAN to televise House-Senate health care negotiations, saying House Republicans unanimously support the television network's proposal.

In a letter dated December 30th to Congress, C-SPAN Chairman and CEO Brian P. Lamb asked "that [Congress] opens all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage."

Democrats have denied the request, and Jim Manley, the spokesman for the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said "The drafting of this health insurance reform bill has set new standards for transparency."

Manley called the Republicans' endorsement a "shameless… strategy to stop reform at all costs by relying on misinformation and myths." Boehner today said that "skipping a real, open conference committee would shut out the American people and break one of President Obama's signature campaign promises."

In 2008, during the presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama promised to make health care talks transparent: "That's what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN."

Obama has also pledged that he would make "meetings where laws will be written … more open to the public" including a pledge "not [to] sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days."

Fueling the controversy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "threw a rare rhetorical elbow" at Obama when a reporter asked her feelings on Obama's campaign promise and Congress' action. Pelosi stated, "There are a number of things he was for on the campaign trail," as reported by Politico.

So far, the House and Senate have passed their own versions of the health care bill and now, once again, are meeting behind closed doors to hash out the differences.

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson stated today that "This bill is so unpopular that this is actually the eighth version presented to the American people, which does not inspire confidence at all."

Wilson said the eight versions of what he dubbed "ObamaCare" were: 1-3) three House committee versions; 4) HR 3200, the House passed version of "public option"; 5) Baucus co-ops, the Senate Finance Committee version; 6) the Senate "public option," which Senator Joe Lieberman and other lawmakers objected to; 7) the Reid substitute that the Senate passed, and 8) the current House-Senate version that Congressional Democrats are now meeting on to discuss.

According to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll, 52 percent of Americans currently oppose the bill.  At least 50 percent have opposed the bill since September 14th, with support never rising above 47 percent since then. Currently, only 42 percent support the bill.

"Barack Obama promised to bring all parties to the table," Wilson said, adding, "Instead, it's just one party, the Democrat Party, at the table.  Not a single Republican has voted on the floor of either chamber for these 'compromises,' and throughout the process Republicans have repeatedly said they have been shut out."

"That's not transparency," Wilson said, concluding, "it's a sham."

Justin Williams is a contributing editor to the Washington News Alert.