November 13, 2006
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: This sounds promising:
Democrats aim to open the next Congress in January with a new rule that identifies lawmakers who use legislative "earmarks" to help special interests — a change Republicans promised but didn't implement.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said her first agenda item after being elected House speaker will be a vote to require sponsors of earmarks to be identified. Currently, lawmakers can remain anonymous in sponsoring an earmark, which is language in a bill that directs funds or tax benefits to a business, project or institution.
"There has to be transparency," the California congresswoman told USA TODAY last week. "I'd just as soon do away with all (earmarks), but that probably isn't realistic."
Let's keep an eye on this -- if it works out, it would be a good thing. And yeah, I know that Pelosi's done plenty of earmarking herself, but that's not the point. If a former earmarker couldn't support earmark reform, there wouldn't be very many votes on the good guys' side . . . .
But where does John Murtha fit in?
UPDATE: Another soiled angel who needs reforming -- the Los Angeles Times reports:
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vows to make reform of congressional earmarks a priority of his tenure, arguing that members need to be more transparent when they load pet projects for their districts into federal spending bills.
But last year's huge $286-billion federal transportation bill included a little-noticed slice of pork pushed by Reid that provided benefits not only for the casino town of Laughlin, Nev., but also, possibly, for the senator himself.
Reid called funding for construction of a bridge over the Colorado River, among other projects, "incredibly good news for Nevada" in a news release after passage of the 2005 transportation bill. He didn't mention, though, that just across the river in Arizona, he owns 160 acres of land several miles from proposed bridge sites and that the bridge could add value to his real estate investment.
Reid denies any personal financial interest in his efforts to secure $18 million for a new span connecting Laughlin with Bullhead City, Ariz.
Where was the LAT on this stuff back before the elections? (Via Mickey Kaus, who also notes Murtha's "energetic 1980 efforts to bring jobs to his District. ")
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader R.W. Rogers thinks I should point out that I was praising Pelosi on porkbusting in this space last year. Repeatedly. Good point.