Earmark request disclosures: do deadlines make a difference?


Adam Hughes of OMB Watch asks a trenchant question in response to a report by Jackie Kucinich in Roll Call. Kucinich notes that Rep. James Oberstar, chair of the House Transportation Committee, which will be overseeing the massive transportation reauthorization bill (the last one, as Taxpayers for Common Sense‘s Steve Ellis tells Roll Call, contained earmarks for the bridges to nowhere), will have less stringent earmark disclosure rules than the House Appropriations Committee. The latter, chaired by Rep. David Obey, requires members post their earmark requests online before they submit them to the committee. Oberstar, by contrast “set a May 14 deadline for Members to submit requests and encouraged them to post the requests on their Web sites, but he stopped short of setting a mandatory deadline,” according to Roll Call. The committee’s communications director, Jim Bernard, told Roll Call “We are not giving them a hard deadline [or stipulating] we won’t consider them until they are posted. Our style is bit different than Mr. Obey’s, but our results will be the same.” Hughes asks: Sorry – quick follow-up Mr. Bernard. How exactly is not requiring earmark requests to be disclosed under the transportation reauthorization the same as requiring earmark requests to be disclosed in appropriations bills?

Obviously it’s not. So, on the evening of May 14, after 5 p.m. EST, Anu, Paul Blumenthal and I will start combing through member Web sites, looking for lists of requested earmarks for the transportation reauthorization bill. We’ll tweet as we go along (hashtag: #wheremark), and see whether deadlines make a difference. When I looked for appropriations earmark requests, I found earmark request disclosures or indications that members weren’t requesting earmarks for 320 members). Let’s see if we find as many without the deadline.