September 7, 2006

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Here’s the latest on developments, from the Christian Science Monitor:

Facing unprecedented public scrutiny and an election this fall, Congress is under the gun to tighten the rules on the time-honored lawmaker practice of slipping pet projects into legislation – and it has about 30 days left to get the job done.

Both House and Senate leaders pledge to change the rules on lawmakers’ earmarks this month, before Congress breaks for the midterm election. But this week, sticking points emerged, complicating their pledge to push the changes through. . . .

“I don’t think senators realized that people cared so much about transparency and responsiveness,” says Zephyr Teachout, national director of the Sunlight Foundation, a broad-based coalition of groups that mobilized bloggers to identify the source of secret holds.

Public support for change should be credited to former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R) of California, whose vast defense earmark-for-bribe scam – some earning his co-conspirators profit margins in excess of 800 percent – stunned many colleagues and sent him to prison. It also raised the profile on the hidden process of securing funds for member projects and mobilized public-interest groups and bloggers to shine a bright light both on earmarking and moves to reform the process.

Even if negotiations fail to produce comprehensive lobby reform, House and Senate leaders say they will change the rules of both bodies to require disclosure of all member projects and their sponsors.

“One way or another, we will address this issue,” said House majority leader John Boehner, as Congress resumed work Tuesday. “It’s important to use taxpayers’ resources wisely – and important [that] we move forward on reform.”

I think that there will be major backlash if nothing gets accomplished this fall.

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