Democrats Continue to “Negotiate” Massive Stimulus Bill Behind Closed Doors

Apr 12, 2011
Press Release

Democrats Continue to “Negotiate” Massive Stimulus Bill Behind Closed Doors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A scheduled House-Senate conference committee meeting on the stimulus bill was cancelled by House Democrat leaders this afternoon. Senate Appropriations Chairman Inouye – who is also the Chair of the conference committee, indicated that the meeting would be postponed due to the Democrat House conferees’ need to be “briefed” on the stimulus agreement.

“After meeting in secret throughout the night to come to an ‘agreement’ on the stimulus package, the Democrats now need to be briefed again on the agreement that they themselves wrote?” said Rep. Jerry Lewis, Ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee and a stimulus bill conferee. “Why not have these briefings and negotiations in public, in conference committee which is the proper place? How about we brief the American people who are footing the bill for this legislation?”

Prior to the scheduled conference committee today, several provisions within the stimulus bill had yet to be negotiated or completed. This means that the conferees would not have the opportunity to see the bill or report text related to these provisions before being asked to negotiate or approve the agreement. These “open” items include major legislative components, including Davis-Bacon provisions, “Buy America” provisions, spending distributions for the “state stabilization fund,” spending distributions for school construction funds, legislative language on broadband deployment, and many others.

“By giving us incomplete information, Democrat leaders are robbing us of our right to make informed decisions regarding the massive amount of government spending and sweeping national policy changes included in this ‘stimulus’ bill,” Lewis said.

Despite her “New Direction” campaign pledge where Speaker Pelosi promised to “require that all conference committee meetings be open to the public” and that conference reports be “available to Members” and posted “publicly on the internet 24 hours before consideration,” it appears the stimulus conference agreement will not be made public until it is filed for a vote on the House floor. In addition, this would be a violation of yesterday’s unanimously-passed House motion to require that the conferees have access to the final text of the agreement for 48 hours prior to the final conference report being filed in the House.

“Transparency and accountability have fallen by the wayside to make room for secret negotiations and back-door schemes. The Members and Senators who are voting on this enormous spending package – and taxpayers who are paying the bill – at least have a right to know what’s in it,” Rep. Lewis said.

112th Congress