So Much For Openness And Transparency

Six months into the new Democratic Congress, lawmakers are still keeping their earmark requests secret:

(CNN) — Despite the new Democratic congressional leadership’s promise of “openness and transparency” in the budget process, a CNN survey of the House found it nearly impossible to get information on lawmakers’ pet projects.Staffers for only 31 of the 435 members of the House contacted by CNN between Wednesday and Friday of last week supplied a list of their earmark requests for Fiscal Year 2008, which begins on October 1, or pointed callers to Web sites where those earmark requests were posted.

Of the remainder, 68 declined to provide CNN with a list, and 329 either didn’t respond to requests or said they would get back to us, and didn’t. (Find out how your representative responded)

“As long as we are not required to release them, we’re not going to,” said Dan Turner, an aide to Rep. Jim McCrery, R-Louisiana.

Seven members of the House said they had no earmark requests.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois) released a list of his earmark requests on Monday.

In 2006, Congress approved a record $29 billion in earmarks –those spending requests derided as “pork” that fund everything from road construction and research grants to ski lifts and minor league baseball diamonds. Legislators view these projects as important proof that they are serving their constituents back home.

The 2006 total was 6.2 percent more than 2005’s $27.3 billion.

When Democrats regained control of Congress last fall, they promised to create the most honest, open Congress in history.

“We will bring transparency and openness to the budget process and to the use of earmarks,” Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi said in December 2006, “and we will give the American people the leadership they deserve.”

Oh please, you didn’t really think they meant it, did you  ?

  • Tom Gellhaus

    Any information on who the seven are?(with none)

    I hope that Ron Paul was one…I expect so but you never know.

  • Andy

    Paul’s can be here

    Like a true constitutionalist, his earmarks are mostly for guiding DOT and Army COE funding toward his district. He’s great and all that, but he’s no Libertarian.

  • Tom Gellhaus

    So I checked. Ron Paul responded, and CNN shows a blank page for him, I assume that means NO earmarks.

    In my own state, NY, nearly all Congresscritters said “no response” or “no” (as in, no, i will not make my list public.) One of the few who did, Gillibrand (D), is so new she probably doesn’t HAVE any.

  • Andy

    Paul’s earmarks can be found here, which might explain his recent post at reminding us that earmarks don’t change budgets, just where the money goes.

  • Ted

    No, Ron Paul had earmarks.

    I was surprised that 12 of the reps from Texas responded, and one of those 12 had no earmarks at all. One of the 12 also responded after the deadline.

  • Zydeco

    Ron Paul is no libertarian? That’s an interesting comment.

  • RightHere!

    I always thought that “earmarks” represent funding put aside in the proposed or ratified budget to go to the requested district or state or other purpose..

    Funding has to be requested and then approved by committee before it can be “earmarked” in any budget. This is basic high school level civics stuff.

    I checked out the link that was posted and all I saw were requests for funding. Nowhere did I see whether any document of these request were actually “earmarked” in the budget. I wonder how may actually made it. And what was the total dollar amount.

    One thing for sure is that I saw no “pork-barrel” funding in any of his request.