Following procedural votes regarding the constitutionality of a number of provisions in the Senate health care bill yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D - NV) avoided talking about how he plans on structuring the conference committee hearing process. Conference committee hearings are where House and Senate bills are merged and usually tend to be televised with members of both houses. The Wall Street Journal is reporting, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D - CA) and Mr. Reid may do away with all of that and prefer closed door meetings to work out the differences in the bills instead.:
“Conferences involving members from both houses are messy things. They are usually conducted in public and often televised, and can produce a compromise version of the bill that leaves rank-and-file members tempted to vote against the final version. That could be perilous in the case of health care since it’s likely to pass without a vote to spare in the Senate and the House’s version passed by only five votes.”
Unfortunately, while Mr. Reid was chatty about the passage of health care bill for the following day, he was not particularly desirous to talk about the conference committee process. In fact, the majority leader seemed more interested in his cactus-eating rabbit, than whether or not the conference committee hearing would be televised. The transcript of my conversation with Leader Reid is below (Video link 17 minutes in).:
TWT: How do you plan on treating the conference committee process? Will it simply be you and Speaker Pelosi in closed meetings or will it be a more transparent traditional process where its going to be televised?
SEN. REID: You obviously weren’t listening. I’m not going to talk about conference committees. I’m talking about passing this bill tomorrow, and as I said yesterday, and I’ll say it again today, you can ask the question many different ways, you’re going to get the same answer. I am looking forward to this vote taking place between seven and eight ‘o’ clock in the morning tomorrow and after I go home to Searchlight, you might get some… after I have a chance to talk other people about how we’re going to proceed on this, but for the time being, I’m going to focus on this billing passing in the morning and for a few days after that, frankly going to sit back and watch my rabbits eat my cactus.