From Sen. Thune's website:
January 7, 2010
The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader, United States Senate
United States Capitol, S-221
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
As you know, the American public has been paying close attention to the health care debates in both chambers of Congress. This important issue affects one-sixth of the American economy, and the changes made by Congress will affect every American family, individual, and business for years to come. Previous rhetoric about transparency has thus far amounted to broken promises to the American people.
In the coming weeks, we ask for increased transparency in the process of merging the House-passed bill and the Senate-passed bill. Closed door negotiations and unprecedented special provisions in exchange for votes do not meet the expectations of the American people. Numerous Senators have reiterated the need for transparency and the President himself noted in August of 2008 that:
“I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table. We'll have doctors and nurses and hospital administrators. Insurance companies, drug companies -- they'll get a seat at the table, they just won't be able to buy every chair. But what we will do is, we'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies. And so, that approach, I think is what is going to allow people to stay involved in this process.”
To ensure that the American people have the ability to witness the on-going negotiations between the House and Senate, we ask that any negotiations regarding a final health care reform bill be conducted in the light of day. The Chairman of C-SPAN, the network responsible for broadcasting the deliberations of Congress, has offered resources to cover all negotiation sessions live. We urge you to take him up on this offer.
We look forward to your response and the commitment that the American people can expect full transparency as you work with Speaker Pelosi and White House officials to merge the House and Senate-passed health care bills.
Signed by Sen. John Thune, South Dakota and all Republican Senators