As Paul just noted, the Senate just rejected a ban on earmarks.
In the absence of an outright, Congress-wide ban on earmarks, tracking earmarks and earmark requests becomes far more important. Regardless of who else abstains from earmarks, we’re still going to see earmarking in the Senate, and without effective disclosure of earmark information, new leadership-driven earmark policies in the House will be very difficult to evaluate.
Will House members ply Senators for earmarks? Will the total amounts requested stay the same, even in the House bans earmarks? Will House members request by proxy through Senators?
Even if the House and Senate had both changed their rules to ban earmarks, we would have seen Members of Congress influencing spending decisions on behalf of their interests. Now that a broad ban has failed, we can be sure that the influence brokering that earmarks create is still going to flourish.
There is broad consensus about only one aspect of earmark policy. They should be more transparent. The best way to achieve earmark transparency is through online disclosure.
Update: We’ll be hosting a Twitter chat tomorrow at 3 PM to discuss issues around earmarks, the earmark ban and earmark transparency. Just follow @SunFoundation or track the #sunchat hastag.