Nearly 30 ideologically diverse organizations joined the Sunlight Foundation on a letter urging Members of Congress to cosponsor the Earmark Transparency Act, S. 3335 in the Senate and H.R. 5258 in the House. The bipartisan bill would require Congress to create an online, searchable database for all earmark requests, strengthening the public’s ability to know how lawmakers are directing federal spending.
Currently, information on earmarks is scattered across more than 559 websites. To remedy that, the Earmark Transparency Act would require Congress to post a public searchable website that lists all earmark requests, including detailed information such as the bill in which the request is made, who originally asked the lawmaker to make the spending request, the amount of the earmark request and more. This allows anyone to search, sort, aggregate, and download all available earmark to better determine for themselves the value of an earmark.
Sunlight has long advocated for technological solutions to make earmarks more transparent. We first proposed an online, searchable database of earmark request disclosures in March of 2008 and we worked to ensure that an earmark database provision was included in the Transparency in Government Act.
The Earmark Transparency Act improves upon measures taken last year by Congressional leadership that required lawmakers requesting earmarks to post their requests on their official websites. Because these requests were not disclosed in a standard method or location, they were difficult to track.
The Earmark Transparency Act will provide an increased level of accountability and public access to the earmark process, and is another example of a legislative fix to ensure that Public=Online. If you agree, you should join us by signing the pledge here and calling your Senators and Representatives and asking them to cosponsor the Earmark Transparency Act.