Saturday, September 16, 2006

House Changes Rules on Disclosure of Earmarks

This has been a good week. First the House and Senate pass legislation creating a searchable database that will track federal spending and follows it up with earmark refrom that will require representatives to attach their name to spending items:
House Votes To Disclose Earmarks
Rule Change Defers Broad Lobby Reform

By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 15, 2006; A01

The House voted yesterday to shed more light on narrow-interest tax and spending legislation called earmarks, an incremental step toward openness that ended the prospect for a more sweeping overhaul of federal lobbying laws this year.

With a 245 to 171 vote, the House reacted to a year of congressional scandals by requiring its members to own up to the thousands of earmarks they sponsor each year.

Earmarks have been at the center of corruption investigations involving several lawmakers and lobbyists, and a public outcry against them helped spur a high-priority effort this year to devise ethics legislation that would have restricted contacts between lobbyists and members of Congress.

Instead, the House simply changed its internal rules to require that these targeted programs and their sponsors be disclosed in every type of bill, a procedure that does not currently exist. The measure, like any such rule change, could expire at the end of the year, but it is likely to be re-adopted along with the House's many other rules, Republican leaders said.

"We are blowing away the fog of anonymity," said Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Rules Committee. "The goal is to pull back the curtain on earmarks to the public."...


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