Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Last-minute deal gives transparency a beating

Congress and the White House finalized a debt ceiling agreement on Aug. 2.
Congress and the White House finalized a debt ceiling agreement on Aug. 2.

If raising the nation's debt ceiling did avert an economic catastrophe, as some have claimed, then maybe it's ungrateful to point out that, in doing so, House Republicans broke their leadership's campaign promise to post the text of bills online for three days before voting.

But we're going to point it out anyway, to keep our GOP Pledge-O-Meter updated.

Republicans who ran in 2010 said they would "ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives." There was no mention in the campaign promise of special rules or emergency situations. 

And even if there had been, we doubt that raising the debt ceiling could qualify as requiring particularly hasty action. U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wrote Speaker of the House John Boehner on May 2, 2011, that Congress needed to act to increase the deadline by Aug. 2.

So members of Congress have known about the deadline for months. We explored more details of the vote in an update and rated it Promise Broken

And, lest Democrats think that makes them better than Republicans, we should also point out that President Obama has his own issues when it comes to transparency. Previously, we examined his promise to allow five days of public comment before signing bills into law and his promise to conduct negotiations for a health care law on C-SPAN. We rated both Promise Broken. (See all of Obama's promises about transparency.)

When it comes to conducting the public's business in public, both sides have found it a challenge.