The Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday announced it will voluntarily enact the earmark transparency and reform provisions in an effort to head off a change in the rules that would make it mandatory to provide this information. The appropriations committee's voluntarily adoption of these reforms does nothing to ensure that earmarks in bills reported by other committees are subject to the same transparency and conflict of interest provisions. Forgoing a rules change would also allow the Appropriations Committee to water down the disclosure provisions or drop the prohibition on members requesting earmarks with financial conflicts of interest.
Click here to read the Appropriations Committee's press release.
Dr. Coburn joined Senators DeMint, Chambliss, Cornyn and Enzi in sending a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell indicating their intention to seek enactment of the Senate's new earmark disclosure requirements.
The Senate passed the rule by a vote of 98-0 as an amendment to S.1, the lobbying and ethics reform bill. However, since the House has not acted on this legislation, the Senate's new earmark disclosure requirements have not been enacted. The appropriation cycle for fiscal year 2008 is well under way so it's imperative the Senate act quickly to implement these important ethics reform.
Dr. Coburn and his four colleagues plan next week to seek passage of S. Res. 123.
The resolution would require disclosure of several types of information related to earmarks contained in committee-passed bills, which must be made available in a searchable format on the Internet. This includes the name of the senator requesting the earmark, the name and address of the intended recipient of the earmark, the purpose of the earmark, and a certification that the requesting senator and his or her spouse have no financial interest in the requested earmark. This is simple information that every senator should be willing to provide the public.
The Council for the Citizens Against Government Waste sent a letter of support for S. Res 123.