19 groups send letter calling for crackdown on hidden earmark spending
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After failing to pass separate appropriations bills, this week Congress passed an omnibus spending bill. While the Democrats did bring the spending down closer to levels requested by President Bush, the bill contains over 9,000 pork barrel projects, bringing the year total to over 11,000 earmarks. In response to the bill, Americans for Tax Reform joined 19 other organizations in sending a letter to the president calling for an end to agencies honoring non-binding spending requests tucked in to the bill.
Through executive order, the president could send a strong signal to Congress that the era of earmarks must end. According to the coalition letter sent today, “On December 20, you stated that you were ‘instructing the budget director to review options for dealing with the wasteful spending in the omnibus bill.’ We applaud you for this leadership, and ask that you follow through by issuing an executive order formally directing all Federal agencies to ignore non-legislative earmarks tucked into committee reports and statements of managers. Such an action is within your Constitutional powers, and would strike a blow for fiscal responsibility now while setting a valuable precedent for the future.”
“The omnibus appropriations bill is about as transparent as a cement-walled maze. A quick stroll through reveals an earmark around every corner,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “President Bush and Congressional Republicans have led the fight to shed light on earmarks and end the rampant overspending. An executive order thwarting non-legislative earmarks is the next step to break down the spending walls.”
Despite a Democrat majority promise to halve the number of earmarks, spending bills for FY 2008 contain about $20 billion in earmarks. Federal investigators are looking into several pork projects that may be motivated by personal profit.
“Spending taxpayer dollars to build a Woodstock museum is bad enough. When New York senators slide a pork project like that into a massive spending bill 24 hours before a vote, while calling for an end to earmarks, it is downright insulting to taxpayers,” continued Norquist. “It is time to rein in government spending, starting with the broken windows of the federal budget: earmarks.”