The Senate voted Tuesday to shine more light on thousands of expensive pet projects buried in legislation every year after the new Democratic majority bowed to a successful push by Republicans to make new disclosure rules even tougher than originally planned.
The vote was 98-0 to require senators to reveal the water projects, hiking trails, defense contracts or tax breaks for specific industries they insert in legislation. That unanimity came five days after Democrats, holding a slim majority, were thwarted by a GOP-led rebellion in advancing their own version of "earmark" reform.
Bringing transparency to earmarks is a major objective of the ethics and lobbying reform legislation that the Senate has been debating since the new congressional session began.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who last week led opposition to the Republican approach, lauded the final product, saying it "combined the best ideas from both sides of the aisle."
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., the author of the amendment to the ethics bill, said the ability of the two sides to come together on the issue was "a good signal for the new Congress."
Nice of Reid to acknowledge the worthiness of the amendment, after he spent a couple days trying to squelch it on the floor despite the fact that most of the language therein had already been passed by Pelosi's house. Ahh well, the good news is earmarks will be more transparent, which means everyone wins but self-centered politicians.
And, we won this fight, in no small part because of attention brought to the subject by bloggers-- left and right-- who stay on the pork-dealers' cases day in and day out. Thanks to all of them.
Of course, Reid hasn't learned much, and is back to blocking legislation to reduce wasteful spending.
And, while I'm on the subject of liberal bloggers, please keep Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake in your prayers and thoughts. She's been diagnosed with breast cancer for a third time, and I wish her a quick, smooth recovery-- or, as quick and smooth as it can get when you're beating cancer. It goes without saying that she's a blogger with whom I have many political disagreements, but there aren't two sides to this debate. Good luck, Jane, and take care.