When the House Armed Services Committee disclosed earmarks in the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, it left out 53 of them worth a total of $744 million, according to a new report from our friends at Taxpayers for Common Sense:
When the House of Representatives passed new rules just a few days into the new Congress requiring lawmakers to disclose the earmarks they insert into bills, applause was tempered by Washington concern about whether or not lawmakers would actually do what they say.
The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) was one of the first out of the gate to implement the rule, adding a 13-page chart in the report accompanying the FY 2008 defense authorization bill (National Defense Authorization Act) that listed each earmark along with the requesting member, dollar amount and beneficiary.
Despite visual quality that would strain the eyes of Superman, much less daylight-deprived budget watchdogs, the chart did lay out 449 earmarks for all to see (anyone who wanted a better look could stop by the Committee office and leaf through three huge binders of request letters).
However, within the 600-odd pages of the bill and accompanying report, TCS found 53 earmarks that were somehow never disclosed. These earmarks are worth $744 million, or nearly nine percent of the total earmarks. In all, TCS found 502 separate earmarks worth $8.4 billion.
At the first link above, you can download a spread sheet with all the earmarks from the bill.
The description of the quality of the committee’s disclosure — barely readable documents, binders available only at the committee’s office — is depressingly familiar to anyone who’s done investigative work in Washington. It’s as if printing and publishing technology hadn’t advanced since the 1950s, and the Web, pdfs, downloadable data and the like didn’t exist.