House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has become the latest congressional leader to advocate for the bipartisan 12-member debt supercommittee to open up its decision-making process to the public.
On a Tuesday conference call with House Republicans – the first of such weekly calls that House GOP leaders plan to conduct with members throughout the month of August – Boehner said that bipartisan leaders are committed to a transparent process as the joint committee begins its work.
“The Majority Leader and I are committed to a regular order process, as outlined in the law, so that all members and committees will have input as this Joint Committee does its work,” Boehner said, according to excerpts of his remarks. “And from the conversations I’ve had with the other leaders of both parties, I can tell you there’s a strong commitment to having open hearings and a public process.”
On Saturday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for the supercommittee process to be as transparent as possible, in contrast to previous debt-reduction negotiations, which have been conducted behind closed doors. A group of rank-and-file Senate Republicans is also urging leaders to open up the panel’s proceedings.
Congressional leaders have until Tuesday to tap their three delegates to the joint committee. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday night became the first to announce his choices; he has tapped Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.).
Boehner said Tuesday that he plans to announce his delegates “in the coming days.”
“You can be confident the people I select to represent our Conference will be people of courage who understand the gravity of this situation and are committed to doing what needs to be done,” he told House Republicans.
Also on Tuesday’s call, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) made the case to members that long-term growth is the only solution to both the debt crisis and the jobs crisis facing the country, according to a participant on the call.
And four days after Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+, Boehner told his conference members that if the House Republican budget had been enacted, the downgrade would not have happened.
“The simple truth is that if our budget was law today, it’s unlikely anyone would be talking about the United States being downgraded today,” he said. “S&P said in its own report Friday that entitlement reform is the key to long-term financial stability. We passed a budget through the House in April that includes entitlement reform, and cuts more than $6 trillion. The Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama have prevented most of those reforms have happening, and that’s why we have a downgrade.”
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday’s call also argued that the House GOP’s fiscal year 2012 budget and the “cut, cap and balance” plan passed by the chamber last month would have prevented a downgrade.
But in its report, S&P stated that its decision to downgrade the U.S. credit rating was based on its belief that the debt-ceiling battle and the broader political debate over spending “indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process.”
And S&P managing director John Chambers told CNN on Saturday that a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution would do more harm than good to the country’s creditworthiness.