The following was originally posted at www.fiscalaccountability.org.
This week, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), and Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ), took aim at President Barack Obama’s earmark reform proposals – proposals which he outlined upon signing into law the bloated Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 which contained thousands of earmarks.
During the budget vote-a-arama, Sen. DeMint offered an amendment to the budget resolution that would have prevented Congress from passing legislation violating the President’s reforms by creating a 60 vote point of order against any bill that is not in compliance with them.
Specifically, in passing the amendment Congress would have found it more difficult to pass legislation incorporating earmarks that:
- are directed to a for-profit entity;
- were not subject to a public hearing with the sponsor testifying on its behalf; and
- were not posted on the senator’s website 72 housr before bill consideration.
Further the amendment would have prohibited senators from trading earmarks for political favors.
All of these arguably modest points were part of the President’s promised reforms, however the senate rejected the amendment at a vote of 28-69.
Senator DeMint said after the vote:
Americans are fed up with wasteful earmark spending, but Washington politicians continue to fight every attempt to achieve common sense reform (…) Once again, the big spenders in the President’s own party have rejected these simple steps to reform out of control spending.
With that, a letter sent by Rep. Flake to the President on March 27 becomes all the more relevant, because, as Rep. Flake points out, the President’s
"new rules of the road," without further detail and clear means of enforcement, will do little to prevent Congressional leadership and appropriators from sticking taxpayers with the bill for billions of dollars worth of wasteful projects and no-bid contracts for political donors via a legislative porcess that is opaque and invites abuse."
The Congressman asks some very important questions, and it will be interesting to see whethere the a response will be more than crickets.
As Rep. Flake rightly points out:
(…) it is clear that it will take more than speeches and press releases to change the broken earmark process.
However, it looks like the majority of Congress won’t even commit to modest changes, as the vote on Sen. DeMint’s amendment shows.