Thursday, February 15, 2007

White House Declares War on Earmarks

OMB made it official today:

Section 112 of H.J.Res. 20 explicitly affirms this, noting that any "language specifying an earmark in a committee report or statement of managers accompanying an appropriations Act for fiscal year 2006 shall have no legal effect with respect to funds appropriated" under the joint resolution. For agencies funded by the CR, this means that unless a project or activity is specifically identified in statutory text, agencies should not obligate funds on the basis of earmarks contained in Congressional reports or documents, or other written or oral communications regarding earmarks. While the Administration welcomes input to help make informed decisions, no oral or written communication concerning earmarks shall supersede statutory criteria, competitive awards, or merit-based decision-making, as set forth in Section II below...

Agencies shall fund activities based on authorized, transparent, statutory criteria and merit-based decision-making (including competitive awards). Federal funds shall be expended only for purposes where the CR grants authority in law for this spending or where there are other authorities in statutes to provide this funding. In particular, agencies subject to the CR are advised to fund activities within each account in accordance with authorizing law, using statutory criteria, such as funding formulas, eligibility standards, and merit-based decision-making. In the application of authorized discretion, each agency shall use transparent and merit-based determinations to achieve program objectives, consistent with the purpose of the statute and Administration policy (including the President's Budget).

Fighting this out on a CR with relatively limited earmarks means that most of the fight will occur behind the scenes. But appropriators recognize that it holds precedent for the regular appropriations cycle, so you can bet they will take it seriously.

Senator DeMint had this to say:

“The President handed American taxpayers a huge victory today by stopping all of the backdoor earmarks Congress requests hidden in reports and through secret emails and phone calls,” said Senator DeMint. “Government agencies now have clear instructions to ignore these congressional earmarks which do not have the force of law. Federal agencies can now use these funds to advance their core missions and serve true national priorities. Without this guidance from the President, thousands of wasteful earmarks worth billions of dollars could have continued even though they were never actually written in our bills or signed into law.”

Read the whole thing.

No comments: