The new House rule defines a congressional earmark as a "provision or report language included primarily at the request of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator providing, authorizing or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or Congressional district, other than through a statutory or administrative formula driven or competitive award process."
CAGW says the House definition of an earmark falls short in two ways. In addition to the one mentioned above regarding the Pentagon and Randy Cunningham, "It omits projects earmarked for more than one state and those designated for federal agencies. For example, the fiscal 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill includes $6,435,000 for wood utilization research in Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia. The House rules would not require the identification of a sponsor of this earmark."
Republicans will have little credibility advocating that these or tougher rules be placed in cement. They have been at the spending trough as much as Democrats. Neither will President Bush have much influence calling, as he has, for spending reforms, since he has refused to veto a single spending measure.
The Senate this week considers revising its ethics rules. Don't look for the "king of pork," Robert Byrd (D-WV.) to take the anti-pork pledge. That would be like asking Britney Spears to "convert" to responsible behavior. Any real reform will be up to "we the people." A good beginning can be found in the CAGW guide.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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