Frank Says FinReg Conference Committee Will Be Mostly Closed-Door
Sunlight is the best disinfectant. For that reason, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has endorsed airing on C-SPAN the conference committee’s negotiations, as the panel of legislators merges the House and Senate versions of financial regulatory reform. But wait! Now it seems the conference committee might not air negotiations — just the discussions right before the committee votes to ratify individual parts of the final bill.
When lawmakers are ready to ratify their decisions, Frank said they will go into an open session to debate and vote on changes to the bill. He called this kind of conference “old-fashioned” — and it would be a notable change from recent past practice in Congress — but it might be only a daylong session at the end of weeks of closed-door talks. And if you’re anticipating a quaint throwback to a less partisan Capitol, think again.
And Frank explains:
“The negotiations will go on in private,” Frank said, “but the results of any discussion are going to have to be voted on. The House will vote to offer this in the Senate, all of the decisions will be made, accommodations may be reached privately — that’s where human beings work — but nothing will be ratified without a public debate.”
If that is indeed how the conference committee proceeds, it might as well be done entirely behind closed doors. There is no effective difference. The lobbying effort will be epic. And the public will have far less information about which legislators are fighting for which carve-outs, and what is traded for what.