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The death of deliberative democracy, Pt. 9,997; Update: Harry Reid’s hypocrisy; Update: C-SPAN calls on Congress to let sun shine in

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 4, 2010 12:17 PM

Scroll for updates…1/5 C-SPAN asks Congress to open up negotiations to cameras…

The most ethical, transparent, open Democrat majority ever is apparently going to short-circuit the House-Senate conference committee process to get the government health care takeover done.

TNR has the story: 

Now that both the House and Senate have passed health care reform bills, all Democrats have to do is work out a compromise between the two versions. And it appears they’re not about to let the Republicans gum up the works again.

According to a pair of senior Capitol Hill staffers, one from each chamber, House and Senate Democrats are “almost certain” to negotiate informally rather than convene a formal conference committee. Doing so would allow Democrats to avoid a series of procedural steps–not least among them, a series of special motions in the Senate, each requiring a vote with full debate–that Republicans could use to stall deliberations, just as they did in November and December.

“There will almost certainly be full negotiations but no formal conference,” the House staffer says. “There are too many procedural hurdles to go the formal conference route in the Senate.”

The Hill people call this “ping-ponging.”

It’s more like dodgeball.

***

Flashback: There was a time when Democrats fiercely guarded the formal conference process. Remember that 2006 report from Democrats on the “death of deliberative democracy” that I told you about in November?

Quoting from page 36:

The conference process in the 108th Congress is a case study in how the Republican leadership abused the Rules of the House to block Members, both Republicans and Democrats, from legislating in an informed and thoughtful manner. House-Senate conferences are a critical part of the deliberative process because they produce the final legislative product that will become the law of the land.

Do as they say…

***

Update: The Democrat dodgeball team leaders have now alienated at least one House liberal.

Update: Via Naked Emperor News, a classic Harry Reid whine about the short-circuiting of the deliberative process…

Update: C-SPAN founder and CEO Brian Lamb wants Congress to walk the transparency walk. Democrat majority, we’re waiting…

C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb sent the below letter regarding opening Congressional health legislative discussions between the House and Senate to Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and Minority Leader Boehner on December 30.

December 30, 2009

Dear Speaker Pelosi:

Representative Boehner:

Senator Reid:

Senator McConnell:

As your respective chambers work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate health care bills, C-SPAN requests that you open all important negotiations, including any conference committee meetings, to electronic media coverage.

The C-SPAN networks will commit the necessary resources to covering all of these sessions LIVE and in their entirety. We will also, as we willingly do each day, provide C-SPAN’s multi-camera coverage to any interested member of the Capitol Hill broadcast pool.

Since the initial introduction of the America’s Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 in the House and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the Senate

C-SPAN has televised literally hundreds of hours of committee hearings, mark ups and floor debate on these bills for the public to see. And importantly, we have archived all of this video for future generations to study in the C-SPAN Video Archives.

President Obama, Senate and House leaders, many of your rank-and-file members, and the nation’s editorial pages have all talked about the value of transparent discussions on reforming the nation’s health care system. Now that the process moves to the critical stage of reconciliation between the Chambers, we respectfully request that you allow the public full access, through television, to legislation that will affect the lives of every single American.

We hope you will give serious consideration to this request. We are most willing to employ the latest digital technology to make the cameras, lights and microphones as unobtrusive as possible.

Please contact me if I can answer any questions.

Sincerely,
Brian Lamb

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