Democratic Values Call for Open and Honest Government
Earmark Accountability is Vital to Public Trust in Congress
Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) joined Republican colleagues today by signing on to a discharge petition designed to force the House Democratic leadership to allow a vote on H.Res. 479. The resolution, sponsored by House Republican Leader John Boehner (OH-08), would ensure all taxpayer-funded earmarks in all congressional bills are publicly disclosed and subject to challenge and open debate on the House floor.
Congressman Pitts' statement follows:
"Taxing and spending the hard earned money of the American people is a serious responsibility granted to Congress by the Constitution. Secretly steering funds to private pet projects that cannot be justified on the House floor is a complete violation of Congress' duty to the American people.
"There is no excuse for conducting taxing and spending policy in smoke-filled back rooms in the dead of night. Every member should be able to justify their spending requests on the House floor in the light of day, with the American people watching.
"For the sake of fiscal responsibility, and the very confidence in our democratic process, I urge my colleagues to sign the discharge petition and pass H.Res. 479."
In June 2007, House Republicans rallied to force Democrats to drop their plans to pass appropriations bills laden with slush funds for secret earmarks. Democrats reluctantly agreed to require disclosure and debate on earmarks in appropriations bills. But the Democrats' fix did not apply to tax and authorizing bills, which have historically been vehicles for some of the most indefensible earmarks churned out by Congress.
Leader Boehner and other GOP leaders, on June 12, 2007, introduced H.Res. 479, legislation that would fully restore the reforms implemented by the Republican-led House in 2006 and require all earmarks in all types of bills -- tax, appropriations, or authorizing -- to be publicly disclosed and subject to challenge and open debate on the floor. Since June, Leader Boehner has repeatedly asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to schedule the legislation for a vote, but there has no action, prompting the need for the discharge petition filed today.