Members Pressing for Answers about Closed-Door Negotiations and Special Deals for Special Interests
WASHINGTON, DC — More than two years after the president’s controversial health care law was enacted, and weeks after the United States Supreme Court heard arguments about the law’s very constitutionality, members of Congress and the American people still do not have access to basic information about how the law was developed and what agreements were reached behind closed doors in its drafting and as it was sold to the public.
The Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee launched an investigation into the law on February 18, 2011, with a letter to Nancy-Ann DeParle, President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff who served as Director of the White House Office for Health Reform during development of the health care law. In that letter, the committee sought basic information about the Office of Health Reform, including a list of its employees and information related to the White House’s non-public meetings with outside interest groups that dealt with the legislation reshaping our nation’s health care system.
The White House initially suggested that compiling such information would be too “vast and expensive,” raising questions about the sheer number of closed-door meetings between the White House and these outside groups. Eventually the White House did turn over some documents, consisting largely of press releases, publicly available information, and an incomplete copy of Ms. DeParle’s schedule.
While the committee will not back away from its effort to access information from the White House about its dealings with outside interest groups, the investigation for the last several months has consisted largely of a review of documents obtained directly from some of the non-governmental organizations who were engaged in these closed-door meetings and negotiations with the White House. The information obtained to date confirms what had been suspected and reported: the White House engaged in extensive negotiations with these outside interests, trading policies for public support and treating pieces of our health care system like a series of bargaining chips to be doled out in an effort to deliver a political victory.
The committee has made significant progress in its review of information produced by these outside groups that were a party to the White House’s secretive development of the health care law. Today, a staff memo was delivered–to GOP members of the committee providing an update on the investigation along with a list of the key questions the investigation intends to answer.
The memo explains, “After months of investigating, with information sought from both the White House and the outside interests involved in these negotiations, we are closer today to understanding the process that resulted in this law. Unanswered questions remain, which is why our investigation continues. We intend to continue reporting back to you as our investigation proceeds and we find answers.”
Copies of the relevant letters can be found below:
Text of the committee members’ April 18, 2011, letters can be found here.
White House Counsel Robert Bauer’s March 18, 2011, response can be found here.
Text of the committee members’ March 10, 2011, letter to White House Counsel Robert Bauer is available here.
Text of White House Counsel Robert Bauer’s March 4, 2011, response to the DeParle letter is available here.
Text of the committee members’ February 18, 2011, letter to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle is available here.