July 29, 2014

Nelson agrees, in part, with Kerrey call for open meetings

Sen. Ben Nelson meets with a constituent/Photo courtesy of Nelson's office

Sen. Ben Nelson will agree only in part with Democrat Bob Kerrey’s call for open Armed Services Committee meetings.

Kerrey, a candidate for United States Senate, recently criticized the committee for holding too many meetings in private. Kerrey called for more of the Armed Services Committee and subcommittee deliberations to be open to the public.

Nelson agrees, at least in part, with Kerrey.

“The key here is to make it as open as possible and you can do that on information and data and documents that aren’t classified,” according to Nelson.

Kerrey, a Democrat running for the United States Senate Nelson will leave after this year, charged that holding closed door meetings on the National Defense Authorization Act benefits special interests at the expense of the public.

Nelson is a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and chairman of the Strategic Forces subcommittee. Kerrey served as vice chairman of the committee when he served as one of Nebraska’s senator in the 1990s.

While Nelson says he agrees with the concept of opening meetings, he worries that classified information could be leaked to the public and compromise the country’s national defense. Nelson says closed meetings are often justified.

“There are two committees at least, but two particular committees, the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee, that deal with issues beyond being sensitive, they are classified,” Nelson says. “I think that as an over-abundance of caution, sometimes things are not as open as they should be. But I certainly support having them as open as they possibly can be.”

Nelson says it should be up to the chairs of the subcommittees as to whether their hearings are open to the public.