EPW Committee Hearing Open To Lobbyists, Closed to the Public (Updated)

Carrots and Sticks staff reports that only paid lobbyists and media were able to make it into today’s Environment and Public Works Committee.

Carrots and Sticks and other citizen groups arrived as early as possible, waited for hours and then were turned away.

Evony Payne of SustainUS, US Youth for Sustainable Development, reports to us that, “Only paid lobbyists made it in, no regular citizens were allowed in. Well over 300 people were turned away.”

Carrots and Sticks, SustainUS, Power Shift and dozens of other groups showed up to participate in democracy and hold Congress accountable, but apparently democracy only gets in the room if elite special interests have seats left over.

-Chris

Update
As people left the hearing room, Committee staff still wouldn’t let citizens in, apparently holding spots only for staff and credentialed media.

Update 2
Watching the Hearing online, most Senators to speak first are clearly interested in creating media sound bits, more then making substantive points. As they move to the latter speakers, you have more of a traditional debate.

Update 3 (by Jeremy)
One of us did manage to get into the hearing at around 11, and did manage to catch all of the witness testimony and questioning.

To be clear, our issue is not with EPW staff itself, they were very helpful in addressing our concerns. The problem is that the Committee failed to secure a hearing room large enough to accommodate the entirely foreseeable demand for public access. To add insult to injury, all nine seats available were taken by corporate lobbyists, to the detriment of the average American citizen.

The hearings will continue, and we expect this problem to be remedied in the coming days. They must either find a bigger room, or allocate the available space in a more equitable manner.

Update 4
Dana Milbank indicates they could have been in a bigger room.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/27/AR2009102702845.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

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