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Tag Archive: Earmark Reform

Earmark Deal?

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The Washington Post's Elizabeth Williamson writes that a deal to release the full list of earmarks sooner rather than later is, maybe, imminent, pending, likely or unlikely (I'm paraphrasing) depending on which House member or staffer you ask; InstaPundit quotes Jeff Flake's press release saying that "the House Appropriations Committee will attach earmarks to the remaining appropriations bills before consideration on the House floor, which will allow Members to attempt to strike out individual earmarks," but later, InstaPundit adds that there may be backsliding; meanwhile Porkbusters seems to be down, at least when I try to get to it, but I understand from email it's flashing a victory sign...

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Novak: Fear of Offending Congressional Appropriators Scuttled OMB Earmark Database

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Robert Novak's latest column repeats, more or less, the information we heard originally from Mark Tapscott -- that fear of offending congressional appropriators led the White House to derail OMB's release of the earmark database OMB announced on January 25, 2007. We've been hearing a very different tale from the Office of Management and Budget, one which I think is rather plausible, as to why they haven't released the whole database. Appropriators are a relatively limited pool of members--it may well be worth the effort to start calling each of their offices and asking their member to go on the record, either supporting or opposing, OMB's effort to provide greater transparency to the federal budget through its disclosure of earmarks, to determine whether they were offended. That still might not answer the question of why OMB delayed the database to everyone's satisfaction, but it would let appropriators know that we're watching them too...

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Make Your Earmark Requests Now

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Both Ed Frank and Mark Tapscott are highlighting an email circulating around the Senate, from the Republican side of the Appropriations Committee:

The Labor-HHS deadline for all requests will be April 13, 2007. This deadline includes any programmatic funding, project funding, bill or report language requests that your Senators would like to submit for the FY2008 LHHS bill.

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New Earmark Transparency from OMB by March 12?

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Office of Management & Budget is circulating a memorandum that requires agency heads to collect information on earmarks--defined here as "funds provided by the Congress for projects or programs where the congressional direction (in bill or report language) circumvents the merit-based or competitive allocation process, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the Administration to control critical aspects of the funds allocation process." OMB will require agencies to specify the recipient of the earmark, its address, the cost of the earmark, a description of what that money will be spent on, and a citation to and copy of the relevant statutory language, among other things. Agencies will have to submit data for Fiscal 2005 earmarks (and for some legislation going back to 2002), as well as keeping track of new earmarks going forward.

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Durbin Amendment Passes

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Did anybody vote against this thing? I don’t think so. The Durbin amendment, a compromise amendment between Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) over earmarking, passed unanimously just now. The earmark reform in the Senate is now equivalent to that passed in the House plus it will require a list of earmarks included in a given bill to be put online 48 hours prior to a vote. Even Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) voted for it, and if you read Bill’s post below that should come as a shock. Final vote tally to strengthen earmark disclosure: 98-0.

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Byrd’s Sweet Nothings on Earmarks

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Andy Roth of the Club for Growth quotes Sen. Robert Byrd on the Senate floor: "Hear me now! There is nothing, nothing, nothing inherently wrong with earmarks." Absolutely, Senator, so it would go without saying, one would presume, that no member of Congress could conceivably have any reason to object to taking responsibility for his own earmarks by attaching his or her name to each and every one of them, as well as the name of the beneficiary of the taxpayer largesse. Does the Senator, in other words, agree that there is nothing, nothing, nothing inherently wrong with transparency and accountability?

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Reid/DeMint Compromise Keeps Online Disclosure

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The compromise on Sen. Jim DeMint's earmark reform amendment has been released and it appears that the online disclosure section of Sen. Reid's proposal will survive along with the stronger aspects of DeMint's amendment. According to CongressDaily, the Senate will vote on DeMint's amendment (SA 11) on Tuesday and then vote on a secondary amendment proposed by Reid that would do the following:

Reid said his changes include a tighter definition of a targeted "tax benefit" to help a limited group. "This is a flexible and more realistic standard," said Majority Whip Durbin. Reid's amendment would also require 48-hour notice on the Internet and aims to prevent lawmakers such as imprisoned former Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham, R-Calif., from thwarting disclosure rules.

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Drama in Senate over Earmark Reform

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Update: TPM Muckraker has details on the face-saving. Reid has bowed to accept the earmark reform. 

The Senate Democrats fought yesterday to hold their slim majority together to fight earmark reforms proposed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) attempted to kill the DeMint amendment (SA 11), which sought to adopt the same earmark reforms the House adopted last week. When Reid pushed a motion to table the amendment ten Democrats voted against their Leader to not table the bill. The whole episode has become a major embarrassment for Reid and it is now rumored that Reid is making a compromise with DeMint to save face.

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More on Tax Earmarks and Reform Loopholes

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Yesterday the Washington Post reported on 520 tax earmarks that were inserted into a bill that passed the Congress on the last day they were in session. I posited that the inclusion of these tax earmarks without a list of members who requested them was in violation of the earmark reform rule that passed the House back in September. It appears that this was not in violation because many of the tax earmarks were proposed as separate bills earlier in the session and were wrapped up into the final bill. Thanks to Bill Allison I was able to track these bills down.

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Tax Break Earmarks Continue

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What, you thought that Congress had really frozen out all of its earmarks? The Washington Post reports today that one of the final acts of the 109th Congress was to pass a tax bill -- the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 -- that included 520 import tariff breaks for select companies. The Post notes, “Corporate lobbyists often craft such suspensions to apply to just one product imported by just one company. Many of those companies and their executives have given millions of dollars to political campaigns.” Of course none of these companies are identified nor do we know who inserted these tax earmarks into the tax bill. All that we have is a very long (and sometimes silly) list that details precisely which items are to be free of import tariffs.

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