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Oh, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors ...
I'm old enough to remember the old Charlie Rich ballad when it was a huge crossover hit. While the song talked about private love, the new session of the Senate may need the same reference to talk about its new approach to public policy. Harry Reid has called for a closed-door session of the entire Senate to kick off the 110th Congress, excluding the press and the public:
Senate Democrats, who campaigned on a pledge of more openness in government, will kick off the 110th Congress with a closed meeting of all 100 senators in the Capitol.
Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who will be the majority leader when the new Congress convenes Jan. 4, announced yesterday "a joint caucus meeting" for senators only, to be held that morning in the old Senate chamber, a cozy, seldom-used room. ...
Reid's staff said that the planned joint caucus will not amount to a legislative session because no business will be conducted and that it will probably occur before the new Congress officially opens. But Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called it a bad precedent.
"When you get all 100 members of the Senate in a room, that's no longer a caucus. That's the Senate," she said. "I think the American people will see through that. I think the only way to restore public trust in what the Congress is up to is to have more transparency than less."
Normally I'd view anything from the Reporters Committee with skepticism, but in this case Dalglish has a good point. The Senate belongs to the people of the US and not Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell, who agreed to the session. If they are conducting the nation's business, then the nation has a right to see it for themselves. Even if they are attempting to reach some agreements on committee assignments and floor procedures, those negotiations affect how our nation will run, and the citizens of the US have a right to see those processes developed.
It's interesting that the party that ran on openness and clean government thinks that its first priority is to meet out of sight of the people who elected them. Reid himself talked about the need for sunlight shortly after winning the majority, ironically on Face The Nation. He said it meant "finding out what government is doing."
So why the closed-door session, if we need to find out what government is doing? Reid's spokesman says the session is meant to foster dialogue between the two parties. I'd say that Charlie Rich had a better bead on it:
She never makes a scene
By hanging all over me in a crowd
'Cause people like to talk
Lord, don't they love to talk
But when they turn out the lights
I know she'll be leaving with me
In this case, however, the only one getting screwed will be the American taxpayer.Sphere It View blog reactions
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