House and Senate Appropriations Committees Announce Additional Reforms in Committee Earmark Policy . . .March 11, 2009 -- President Barack Obama when signing the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act:
In our continuing effort to provide unprecedented transparency to the process, new reforms to begin with the 2010 bills include:
• Posting Requests Online: To offer more opportunity for public scrutiny of member requests, members will be required to post information on their earmark requests on their websites at the time the request is made explaining the purpose of the earmark and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds.
• Early Public Disclosure: To increase public scrutiny of committee decisions, earmark disclosure tables will be made publically available the same day as the House or Senate Subcommittee rather than Full Committee reports their bill or 24 hours before Full Committee consideration of appropriations legislation that has not been marked up by a Senate Subcommittee.
In my discussions with Congress, we have talked about the need for further reforms to ensure that the budget process inspires trust and confidence instead of cynicism. So I believe as we move forward, we can come together around principles that prevent the abuse of earmarks.May 13, 2009 -- Article in Roll Call magazine:
These principles begin with a simple concept: Earmarks must have a legitimate and worthy public purpose. Earmarks that members do seek must be aired on those members' websites in advance, so the public and the press can examine them and judge their merits for themselves. Each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings, where members will have to justify their expense to the taxpayer. . .
Now I know there are members in both Houses with good ideas on this matter. And just this morning, the House released a set of recommendations for reform that I think hold great promise. I congratulate them on that.
Now I'm calling on Congress to enact these reforms as the appropriation process moves forward this year. Neither I nor the American people will accept anything less.
An extra layer of earmark transparency established by the House Appropriations Committee will not be adopted by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for the massive transportation authorization bill the panel plans to take up later this year -- the sequel to the bill that created the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere."Next step -- Doesn't the President have to veto the forthcoming transportation re-authorization bill? After all, the Obamessiah said "the American people [won't] accept anything less." Unless, the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger is right:
Transportation Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) will not require Members to post their earmark wish lists at the time their requests are made, his spokesman said, which was a new Appropriations requirement this year.
Instead, Oberstar set a May 14 deadline for Members to submit requests and encouraged them to post the requests on their Web sites, but he stopped short of setting a mandatory deadline.
"We are not giving them a hard deadline [or stipulating] we won’t consider them until they are posted," said Jim Berard, communications director for the committee. "Our style is bit different than Mr. Obey’s, but our results will be the same."
In a February letter, Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) informed Members that in order to have any projects considered by his panel, they must post an active link to the request on their Congressional Web site at the time the request is submitted.
Leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have taken a more lenient approach.
Barack Obama isn't a reformer. He's the president of Earmark Nation.(via OMB Watch)