Toward Clarity on the House Earmark Reform


What exactly did the House do when it passed earmark reform? Dana Chasin at OMBWatch notes one major limitation — that it won’t apply to earmarks in appropriation bills that had already passed by the House. That would include the following appropriations bills: Agriculture, Science/State/Justice/Commerce, Defense, Energy & Water, State & Foreign Operations, Homeland Security, Interior & Environment, Legislative Branch, Military Quality of Life & Veterans Affairs, and, finally, Transportation, Treasury, HUD and DC. In case you’re keeping score at home, that leaves Labor, HHS & Education as the lone bill to which full earmark disclosure would apply. (As for the other bills, if earmarks are inserted by House Members in conference, they would be identified, assuming that….

Additionally, it’s not entirely clear that it would apply to a big project that ultimately would be named for its sponsor:

Would it apply to a facility named after a sponsoring Member? That interpretive question hasn’t been resolved yet, but since the money would be directed to only one specific location (even if a large one, such as a highway), current thinking is that it would likely come within the ambit of the rule.

Even if that current thinking is right, there’s an awful lot of earmarks that will make their way through the process in anonymity.

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