Congressional Democrats announce earmark reforms

From Raw Story

After this week’s media coverage of the heavily earmarked omnibus spending bill, leading congressional Democrats and the Appropriations Committee triumphantly announced two earmark reform recommendations this morning. President Obama, who helped write the committee’s recommendations, admitted that the $410 billion spending bill was imperfect but insisted that “important progress” was being made.

The reforms were published today in a joint release from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. The Democrat-led initiative has two facets, both focusing on increasing the power of the executive branch. The first part of the reform specified a review by an “appropriate executive branch agency.” A review, according to the document, will ensure that “the earmark is eligible to receive funds and meets goals established in law.” The second part of the recommendation is aimed at cutting down for-profit earmarks; earmarks directed towards for-profit entities will have to undergo a “competitive bidding process” in order to be a part of legislation. The bidding process will also be run by the executive branch.

If these recommendations are enacted by Congress, this will be the third stage of reforms aimed at fixing the earmark problem. In January 2007, the House of Representatives enacted a set of rules concerning earmark ownership and fiscal interest, as well as a 1-year earmarking moratorium. And starting with fiscal year 2010, new earmarks come with a homework assignment for their owner; all Members’ requests for earmarks are to be publicly disclosed on their website with an explanation of why it is an appropriate use of taxpayer money. The new fiscal year will also bring a permanent earmark ‘budget’. No more than 1% of the total discretionary budget will be used for congressional district’s pet projects.

 
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Filed under Appropriations Committee, Congressional Democrats, earmarks, Nancy Pelosi, Omnibus spending bill, President Obama, Raw Story

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