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C-SPAN pleads with Reid, Pelosi to open final drafting sessions for Obama's healthcare bill (Updated)

January 5, 2010 |  3:00 pm

LambBrianCSPANEdtd

As every sentient American citizen knows, Brian Lamb is the ever-calm, always inquisitive, consummately polite host of decades of interviews on the essential C-SPAN that should be on the Favorites list of every voter's remote TV control.

As America's Alistair Cooke, Brian Lamb has interviewed every person that Larry King never heard of.

But today Brian Lamb was acting as CEO of C-SPAN. He released a plea he had quietly sent to the leaders of Congress late last month (full text below), asking that they please, please open to his cameras the meetings to craft the final consensus version of the gazillion-dollar healthcare bill that President Obama wants so very badly.

As The Ticket reported here this morning, Senate Democrat Harry Reid and House Democrat Nancy Pelosi are inclined to finish up the 2,500-plus-page legislation themselves behind closed doors, skipping the usual Senate-House conference committee that would include those pesky Republicans.

That political pair can do this because American voters collectively handed over to Democrats the....

...combination to the power vaults for the entire city of Washington in November, 2008, believing in change to believe in.

Democracy can be so messy with a second party and the current outnumbered second party has vowed to use every legislative delaying tactic it can conjur to stall the healthcare bill that its members and 52% of the polled public opposes. This is bothersome to Democrats.

That party's leaders meet with Obama at the White House this evening to discuss their endgame strategy to present the bill to him for signing as a sweet Valentine's Day gift or sooner. This end-around conferencing is already set to go smoothly, according to Ryan Grim over at HuffPo.

Not accidentally, media and public attention to that political strategy meeting, which is also behind closed doors, will be minimized by this afternoon's redundant presidential statement on national security, again recounting his administration's lapses in the Christmas underwear incident and his determination to order an end to such things while still closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Lamb's openness plea was diplomatically addressed to congressional leaders of both parties, although the Republican ones don't really matter currently. Lamb wrote:

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....

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....

(UPDATE: Those who agree with Lamb's request now have a Facebook Fan page here to express their support.)

(UPDATE No. 2: House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio replied to Lamb's letter, enthusiastically accepting the broadcaster's offer. The full text is available here.)

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Brian Lamb's letter to congressional leaders:

December 30, 2009

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker, United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Harry Reid, Majority Leader, United States Senate

The Honorable John Boehner, Minority Leader, United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader, United States Senate


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,

/s/ Brian Lamb

Photo: C-SPAN

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