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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Charlie Dent: Isn't It Time for Cameras in the Rules Committee?

The powerful U.S. House Rules Committee is responsible for reporting measures to be considered by the Full House and establishing the terms under which the House will debate, amend and vote. LV Congressman Charlie Dent thinks it's time for a little transparency, and has introduced a resolution calling for cameras to record and broadcast proceedings.

“As Congress considers some of the most pivotal policy of our time, the American people deserve full transparency in all legislative proceedings, particularly those of the powerful Rules Committee,” Congressman Dent said. “There has been unprecedented civic engagement since the 2008 election. Americans understand the importance of the policy that Congress is considering and they are watching the process closely. It is unacceptable that they are shut out of the Rules Committee’s critical proceedings. In the past year, we have seen 300-page amendments offered to the Rules Committee in the middle of the night and key policy proposals rejected on a straight party-line vote without thorough consideration. Sunlight will be a powerful disinfectant against these practices.”

According to a spokesperson for Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, cameras are always welcome. "We invite TV cameras to every single meeting we have. We can't dictate what the press decides to cover but cameras are always welcome at our meetings. Like all Americans, we love C-SPAN. And it's worth noting that Rules is far more open under us than it ever was under Republicans. We meet earlier, post more information online and we do it faster than ever before so the public knows exactly what happens at each of our meetings."

But the Rules Committee hearing room is among the smallest on Capitol Hill and one of the last without cameras to record the work of the committee. Congressman Dent’s resolution would call for installation of cameras during the next long district work period, and facilitation of live audio and video webcasting of all proceedings. The expense would be minimal since most of the architectural work required to install cameras was completed during the last renovation of the hearing room.

Though not a member of the Rules Committee, Congressman Dent has had significant experience with the silent influence this Committee can wield. He has gone to the Rules Committee on numerous occasions to offer substantive amendments. For instance, he offered an amendment during consideration of the major FY2009 Appropriations bill to hold spending at an inflationary increase, and in deliberations on the TARP legislation he offered an amendment to cap funding at $250 billion and require another vote of authorization before allocating additional money. Both amendments were rejected by the Committee and consequently, not allowed to be considered by the full House.

“This committee can prevent the opportunity for serious debate, but the American people don’t have the opportunity to hear its members explain their own actions,” Congressman Dent said. “One thing I hear consistently from my constituents, regardless of their views on policies, is that they feel like Congress is out of touch. More transparency is demanded, and I think that letting the American people in on the important proceedings of the Rules Committee is a logical place to start.”

Congressman Dent’s resolution was introduced Friday with 61 original cosponsors, including four members of the Rules Committee: Ranking Member David Dreier of California, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida, Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, and Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.


Anonymous said...

Dent is pushing all the right re-election buttons at the right time. Kudo's to his campaign team!

Anonymous said...

How can we have cameras on a federal level when municipal and county level politicians refuse to let the electorate know what they are doing? Can Charlie put a call in to the local bohunks here first and then work on Washington?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Congress is probably easier.

LVCI said...

All retail stores have had surveillance cameras for years to try and keep people honest and deter thieves.. hmmm?

Anonymous said...

Wow. I just lost my job but I am real happy Charlie is focused on cameras. I was just thinking as I sat down to figure out how to pay my bills "I wish we could get some cameras in the Rules committee hearing room." Thanks Charlie you are really working my buttons. When can Callahan start?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ohare, why not do a post on Charlie's support for the big telecoms to start restricting the last vestige of freedom, the interent.

Cleaverly disguised as the, "Freedom blah, blah blah and something act", it really lets Verizon and the others determine issues such as transfer speed.

Sooo, if we want you to really see things you get it fast. If we prefer you not see things we make sure they download very, very slowly.

Tell your Congressman to not support this bullshit bill. The latest attempt by Big Corps. to control free information in the World.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Some years ago, I did post about it. In fact, I managed to out AT&T disguised as a blogger (It's called Astroturf blogging). That ws picked up by NPR. At that time, I thought Congressman Dent favored net neutrality. I will do some research next week to see what is going on.

Anonymous said...

Congressman Dent voted for the hate crimes bill last week, he voted for a huge federal takeover of land earlier this year (the Wilderness Act)as well as all the spending bills. He is the 8th most liberal Republican in the House! And that is saying alot considering how liberal the Republicans have become!