So, on Sept. 14, the House passed a rule that aimed to bring some transparency to the earmarking process: Members names would have to be attached to the earmarks they sponsored. While the goal is worthy, it seemed to me that this particular rule was fairly modest at best, and potentially even counterproductive; since then, we’ve learned just how modest a reform the rules change is–it doesn’t apply to earmarks already inserted in 10 of the big appropriations bills.
But apparently, even that level of disclosure is too much for the House. Captain Ed reports that when it comes to pork, rules are for suckers:
The House has considered a new Coast Guard appropriation (HR 5681), but they did so under a suspension of the rules. This parliamentary manuever allows Representatives to undermine the new rule just created that forces them to identify their earmarks in the Congressional Record. Sure enough, sources on the Hill tells me that some shenanigans occurred with the Coast Guard Authorization Act, and section 405 confirms it. The addition to HR 5681 authorizes a multimillion-dollar research program at the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, a joint project of the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Rep. James Oberstar is the responsible party, but it’s not so much this one, particular earmark (costing taxpayers $11.5 million) that rankles. Rather, it’s the revelation of just how phony this reform is: it applies to hardly anything, and it can be suspended on those things to which it applies.
Update: Andrew Roth of Club for Growth has video…