PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: The House and Senate have reached an agreement on the earmark reduction bill. House Majority Leader John Boehner reports:
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.), U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (Okla.), Barack Obama (Ill.), and Tom Carper (Del.), and Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) today announced that they have reached agreement on legislation to increase accountability and transparency by establishing a public database to track federal grants and contracts. House Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) announced he plans to schedule the agreed-upon language for House floor consideration next week.
“This process has focused on enhancing the accountability and transparency in the federal budget process,” Blunt, Boehner, and Davis said. “The federal government awards approximately $300 billion in grants to roughly 30,000 different organizations. Each year, roughly one million contracts exceed the $25,000 reporting threshold. We need to be sure that money is spent wisely. Our legislation creates a transparent system for reviewing these expenditures so that Congress, the press, and the American public have the information they need to conduct proper oversight of the use of our tax dollars. The package we’ve agreed to move requires the Administration to establish searchable databases for both grants and contracts.”
“I’m pleased that the House leadership agreed with us that all federal spending should be accessible through this website. It doesn’t matter if it’s a grant, an earmark, or a contract, this legislation will allow the public to know how their tax dollars are being spent,” said Sen. Obama.
It's a small but important step. It's worth noting, though, that as important as structural changes like this are, we also need to change the culture. That's starting to happen, too, but we've got a long way to go. Transparency should help with that, though.
Here's more from Americans for Prosperity. I certainly hope that this part is true: "With this online spending database now headed for reality, I have a feeling that those grassroots taxpayers and bloggers will soon show that they’ve just been getting warmed up."