Is There More Backsliding on Earmark Reform?


Over at Porkbusters, N.Z. Bear relays the latest word on the shape that earmark reforms will take in the new lobbying bill, and offers readers a chance to check for themselves.

Rather than clutter the home page up with a million updates, I’ll take a closer look myself over on RealTime

Based on what we’re hearing from those who would know, key changes include:

* The old version (passed by the Senate) required conference / committee reports to list all earmarks and required the chairman of the relevant committee to distribute the earmark list. But the new version of the bill allows the Majority Leader (as opposed to the Senate parliamentarian, a more objective judge) to determine whether or not a conference report complies with the disclosure requirements. * The new version removes the requirement for earmark lists posted online to be in searchable format. * The new version removes the provision that prevented any bill from being considered at all prior to the disclosure of earmarks; now the text only prohibits a formal motion to proceed, which leaves open a procedural loophole that would allow bills to slip through without disclosure. * The old version prohibited earmarks which benefit a Member, their staff, or their family/their staff’s family. The new version waters that down and only prohibits earmarks that would “only” affect those parties — which means so long as you can make a case that your shiny new project affects at least one person other than you positively, you’re all set.

Porkbusters has obtained and posted a copy of the latest draft of the legislation, and offers this invitation: “Check it out, and if you find more nasty surprises in there, please leave a comment and tell us what you’ve discovered…”

For comparison purposes, here’s an older version of the Senate bill (which passed in January).

More: Mark Tapscott writes that “Reid and Pelosi are gutting earmark reform.”