Congressional Quarterly reports that a small group of Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee are working to reform how earmarks are decided upon. And little wonder, appropriators of both houses have recently been caught red handed abusing them. Seven of the 29 Republicans on the committee are meeting on a weekly basis in an attempt to come up with a reform that appropriators can agree to. One idea they?ve discussed is requiring that both the chairman and the ranking minority member approve all earmarks. The CQ article also lists several other ad hoc groups of lawmakers in both chambers that are looking to further reform the earmark process.
One plan sponsored by Rep. Phil Gingrey would cap appropriations earmarks and divide the dollars equally among members of the House and Senate. Besides the GOP, members of the Congressional Black Caucus are looking to reform how earmark dollars are spread around in light of a CQ report that showed a large disparity depending on the race of the lawmaker. Republicans are also advocating more transparency in how earmarks are handled. Here, here to that!
Despite the new transparency rules which require the disclosure of what lawmakers secured what earmarks, Republican critics say that the rules aren?t as transparent as the Democrats would have us believe. CQ reports that 197 House Republicans have signed on to a discharge petition calling for a debate over what they say are incomplete earmark-disclosure lists. Minority Leader John Boehner is calling for a debate on the contents of all earmark lists prior to voting on a bill.
We like the new found love for earmark openness and transparency being espoused by both sides of the aisle, even if some of it is politically motivated And despite the pats on the back some in the Democratic leadership are giving themselves, there is much more reform needed.