Earmark Reform within the 110th Congress policy, transparency and effectiveness
Lacefield, Arleigh B.
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Earmark spending has come under attack by, and scrutiny of, government watchdog groups, the media and some fiscal conservatives in Congress because of the political corruption that has centered around its use, the increase in the amount of new earmarks being requested and funded, and because of the waste thought to be associated with earmarked spending. As a result, Congress has considered a series of earmark reforms, focused primarily on reforming Senate and House rules to ensure better control of the appropriations process and also providing transparency and accountability of all earmark requests and spending. Of the numerous reform bills and resolutions introduced in the Senate and House during the 110th Congress, one bill and one resolution became law. The Honest Leadership and Government Act of 2007 was intended to provide greater transparency of earmarks requested during committee mark-ups and in conference. House Resolution 491, "Providing for Earmark Reform," discouraged the unauthorized insertion of earmarks into the language of conference reports. Although total earmarked spending and the number of earmarks declined slightly following passage of these measures, there is little evidence to suggest cause and effect. This was apparent after the passage of the FY2009 spending package when congressional leaders were criticized for failing to offer lawmakers and the public sufficient time and opportunity to adequately scrutinize all earmark requests.
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