Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Senate Democrats Backtrack on Promises

Earlier this year, Jim DeMint embarrassed Senate Democrats into accepting a reform of earmarks as part of the Senate ethics bill. The reform would bring openness to the earmarking process, but the Senate is not following those rules because the leadership shows no interest in actually getting the ethics bill signed into law.

Senator DeMint took to the Senate floor today to ask that the earmark reform be applied to the Senate today, by incorporating it into Senate rules. But the Democrats rejected even that:

It's a shame that the Democrats - who swept into power promising to change the way Washington works - are instead defending the same old abuses.

Update: CQ reports that DeMint's move forced the Appropriations Committee to adopt his rule. But DeMint issued a press release today spelling out the problems with the new rule:

The decision by the Senate Appropriations Committee is not full or enforceable reform. The new Byrd rule:

• Doesn't apply to all earmarks. Many earmarks are contained in authorization bills and authorization committees have not agreed to adhere to the disclosure rule. For example, the infamous Bridge to Nowhere was an authorization earmark and would not be included under the new Byrd policy.

• Has no enforcement. This is a promise with no teeth. There is no recourse for senators – or taxpayers - if the Appropriations committee doesn't live up to their word. If the rule were enacted, Senators could raise a point of order against any appropriations bill that does not meet the disclosure requirements.

• Is the second promise by Democrats on earmark reform. After promising a complete time-out on earmarks for the rest of 2007, Democrats immediately proceeded to add billions in pork to the war supplemental (spinach, peanut storage, Christmas trees, etc.) and at least one clear violation by resurrecting a University of Vermont earmark from 2006.

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