It’s always useful to look at things the morning after they’ve passed. So what did we really get in the so-called "earmarks reform" rule change?
Here’s the good part: All legislation of all types must have lists of all earmarks and the names of lawmakers who proposed them before their considered. That’s terrifically comprehensive.
But this new requirement on earmarks will be in effect for a maximum of 14 days by our estimate! (That’s the estimated number of days left in this session — likely there will be even fewer days.) But these are a critical 14 days because a lot happens in the final days and hours when Congress is rushing to get home, and lawmakers tend to want to do a few final last minute thank-yous for their friends who are funding their campaigns. So that’s a mix of good and bad news.
Some are speculating that the new rules are likely to swept into the overall into the overall package of rules that would get approved in the next Congress. That would be very good news indeed. However, if Democrats take over that might be less likely because honestly, they were no more enthusiastic about this change than were many Republicans.
The Heritage Foundation has broken down the list of who voted and for and against this and it’s pretty telling: Of the 24 Republicans who voted against the rule change, 22 are appropriators. The other two are, interestingly, Rep. Don Young of Alaska and Rep. Chip Pickering of Mississippi. Twelve appropriators actually supported it in the end.
Of the 29 Democrats who serve on the Appropriations Committee, 28 opposed this. The only Democrat to vote yes was Rep. Chet Edwards.
Without continued vigilance from the blogosphere that made this happen, I bet it quietly slips away.
Earmark reform doesn’t take away the need for more sweeping ethics reforms. The public won’t likely forget that the Congress hasn’t done that, particuarly with the news today of Rep. Bob Ney’s pending guilty plea.