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Inouye, Obey Promise Earmark Reforms

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Roll Call is reporting that Rep. David Obey and Sen. Daniel Inouye, the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, have agreed to a number of reforms of the earmarking process. According to Roll Call, all earmark requests will be posted online -- "starting with the fiscal 2010 appropriations bills, when Members make their earmark requests, they will be required to post the requests on their Web sites explaining the purpose of the earmark and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds."

This is okay as far as it goes, and in improvement (currently earmark requests don't have to be disclosed at all), but why these requests can't be centralized in a searchable, sortable, downloadable database rather than spread across 535 member sites is a bit of a mystery.

Roll Call also says tables of approved earmarks will be available before bills are approved by committees (right now you have to wait until the committee approves the bill), and that spending on earmarks would be limited to one percent of discretionary spending--about $10 billion a year.