Update: C-SPAN Challenges Dems to Open the Health Care Debate, WH Responds

Posted: Jan 05, 2010 2:55 PM
C-SPAN Chairman and CEO Brian Lamb has sent a letter to leaders in Congress, asking their permission to televise ongoing negotiations surrounding the final version of health reform legislation.  In a letter addressed to Speaker Pelosi, GOP Leader Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Reid and GOP Senate Leader McConnell, Lamb notes:
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 American.
You'll probably remember that during his run for the presidency, then-Senator Barack Obama promised an open and "transparent" process of reforming the nation's health care system, and specifically promised C-SPAN access to televise the debate:
That’s what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are, because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process.
This sentiment sounded nice, and clearly a lot of voters bought it.  But just days after C-SPAN reached out to congressional leaders, Democrats resumed their closed-door negotiations on Capitol Hill, as Politico reports.  In fact, as Rep. Michele Bachmann pointed out in her blog post earlier today, Democrats are planning to completely bypass the official conference committee in order to force the legislation through Congress to the president's desk.

Update: The White House is responding to C-SPAN's request today.  According to Major Garrett of Fox News, Robert Gibbs claims Obama's "standard" for C-SPAN cameras/roundtable discussions/visible back & forth debate "has been met."  As Gibbs noted this afternoon, President Obama feels there is "no need" for cameras to cover final House-Senate health care negotiations.  Apparently Obama's "standard" for transparency just means none at all.