New Earmark Reform Push in the Senate
John McCain and Russ Feingold are putting the old team back together to push for earmark reform in the Senate. Joining the old reformers are young guns Claire McCaskill, Tom Coburn, and Lindsey Graham. CongressDaily (subscription required) details what the reform package will look like:
[T]he measure would allow individual senators to raise points of order against unauthorized earmarks in appropriations bills. Earmark backers would need 60 votes to overcome the objection and the cost of the bill would be reduced by the amount of the earmark.
The measure also requires appropriations and authorizing conference reports to be electronically searchable for 48 hours before the Senate considers the conference reports and requires that recipients of federal funds disclose payments to registered lobbyists.
This is a big improvement over the current earmark process. While the Sunlight Foundation believes that all legislation should be available online for at least 72 hours before a vote, the 48-hour proposal is a step in the right direction. Making the bills searchable is an incredibly important step as thumbing through appropriations legislation is cumbersome.
Still to be determined is what would be disclosed for each individual earmark. Are recipients included? What else must be listed? Also, will the new reform team try to extend their reform package to cover the newly released rules for earmark request disclosure?