Of course, CAGW notes that Congress promised a full moratorium on earmarks and pork barrel spending.
“House Republicans today adopted a ban on earmarks in the 112th Congress, continuing the earmarks ban they already have in place,” CBS News reported in 2010.
“This earmark ban shows the American people we are listening and we are dead serious about ending business as usual in Washington,” House Republican Leader John Boehner said at the time.
“Senate Republicans — driven by Tea Party-backed lawmakers — adopted an earmarks ban on Tuesday, despite concerns from Republican leader Mitch McConnell and some other Republicans that in doing so they are ceding spending authority to the executive branch,” CBS News added.
But being consummate politicians, many members of Congress found a way around the total ban.
“Numerous pet projects still found their way into appropriations bills despite the supposed moratorium on earmarks, the Pig Book’s authors say — and despite Congress certifying each appropriations bill as earmark-free,” CNN reported last week. “Citizens Against Government Waste acknowledges that its criteria for what constitutes an earmark differ from those of Congress.”
“The supposed lack of earmarks resulted in a completely opaque process,” CAGW says. “Since earmarks were deemed to be non-existent, there were no names of legislators, no information on where and why the money will be spent, and no list or chart of earmarks in the appropriations bills or reports. Earmarks were scattered throughout the legislative and report language, requiring substantial detective work to unearth each project. While the lower number and cost of earmarks is a vast improvement over prior years, transparency and accountability have regressed immeasurably.”
That’s easily fixed, however. All that needs to be done, according to CAGW is to “enforce the requirement in President Bush’s January 29, 2008, Executive Order that each federal agency release all communications from members of Congress regarding any earmark.”
There are still egregious examples of government waste.
Still, Congress should be commended for mostly keeping its promise to eliminate earmarks.
But we can still demand better accountability.