Ryan Welcomes Progress Toward Restoring Earmark Accountability
As one of the lawmakers who has been leading the charge against secret earmark slush funds and objecting to House Democratic leaders' disregard for earmark disclosure rules, First District Congressman Paul Ryan welcomed progress made late this week to bring earmarks back into the open and restore representatives' ability to challenge wasteful spending on the House floor.
In protest against House Democratic leaders' plan to add earmarks to spending bills only at the end of the process, when there's no opportunity to challenge individual earmarks through amendments, Republicans used procedural tactics to delay debate. However, an agreement was reached between Democratic and Republican leaders to bring back earmark accountability and allow the appropriations process to move forward.
"Congress needs to show taxpayers how it intends to spend their money, and this means being open from the start about which earmarks are attached to spending bills. This way, wasteful pork-barrel items can be rooted out and representatives will be held accountable for the spending they request. It's important that we were able to stand up for earmark reform and get the House leadership to back down from its plan to reveal earmarks much later in the process. While this agreement isn't perfect, it's a big win for taxpayers. We have to keep shining sunlight on spending and keep serving as watchdogs on federal spending," Ryan said.
The agreement provides that, following House votes this week on two spending bills (Homeland Security, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs), all ten remaining appropriations bills will have their earmarks fully disclosed and subject to challenge on the House floor by any Member of Congress. In the unique case of the Energy and Water bill, earmarks included in that measure will move to the floor in a package separate from the non-earmark portion of the bill, but the earmarks will be fully disclosed and subject to challenge.
In addition, under this agreement, if earmarks that did not appear in initial House or Senate versions of the ten remaining appropriations bills are air-dropped into spending legislation at the end of the process, during conference negotiations with the Senate, the legislation would be subject to a point of order - a potential vote in the House to send the legislation back to conference.