POSTED: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 7:00pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 7:14pm
Austin, TX (Longview News-Journal) — Texas Rep. David Simpson lost an attempt Monday to force the committees that reconcile bills to be more transparent when eliminating or adding language to measures that emerge from the House and Senate approved in different versions.
Simpson, R-Longview, has had some victories after four days in Austin that began with his withdrawal from challenging House Speaker Joe Straus III, R-San Antonio.
And with Straus holding the gavel Tuesday as the House set the rules it will follow for the 140-day session, Simpson asked that conference committees be required to distribute final versions of bills 12 hours before a final vote.
Conference committees typically are five members from both the House and Senate charged with reconciling two versions of a bill that’s passed both chambers in different versions.
“Because, you get on the floor and no one knows what’s in the (conference committee’s) report,” Simpson said, noting this usually occurs in the harried final days of a session. “No one knows what’s been added or taken away.”
Simpson said bills sent to conference committee are ripe for lobbyist and other influences which add or subtract items they like or dislike. His failed amendment also would have forced the conference committees to meet in the open and take minutes.
That amendment to the House rules was tabled by acclamation, and was not brought up again before the final rules vote which Simpson joined in a 148-0 decision.
Of several rules amendments offered by tea party Republicans, Simpson said most failed.
“That’s true, and it wasn’t all of them that were good,” he said, describing one that would have allowed bills to escape committees without a vote of the committee. “I couldn’t support that. They meant well. The rules are done, but I do think a lot of people will want to work on the conference committee transparency issue.”
Simpson had sounded more optimistic at the end of the past week, in the wake of his withdrawal from the speaker’s race.
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