Closed Meetings for SuperCommittee
Sept. 14, 2011, 3:49 p.m.
(see also update at the end of the post) We're seeing reports that the Super Committee will be having a closed meeting.
If this is true, then it looks like the Super Committee members and staff need to read their own rules again.
As we noted last week, the Super Committee's rules incorporate the House and Senate's rules provisions which govern holding closed committee hearings. They lay out specific requirements for how a committee may hold closed hearings, and "because we want to" isn't a permissible option. (Former House Counsel Mike Stern agrees; read the last paragraph here.)
The Super Committee has far more power than any normal committee (or even conference committee). The standard to which they are held should be higher, since they get to skip both a filibuster (in the Senate) and a motion to recommit (in the House).
If the committee wants to hold an executive session, they should approve it in an open session, through a public vote, and with appropriate justification, as is normally expected, and as is required by the rules that they approved themselves.
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