Democrats Hiding Earmarks?
The new Democratic Congress really is changing the way things are done in Washington, aren’t they? I’ll leave it up to the reader to define “change” (h/t) in John Fund’s story:
Democrats promised reform and instituted “a moratorium” on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up. Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again. But curiously, the scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service (CRS)–a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency–has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. “They claim it’ll be transparent, but they’re taking away the very data that lets us know what’s really happening,” says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. “I’m convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS.”
Indeed, the shift in CRS policy represents a dramatic break with its 12-year practice of supplying members with earmark data. “CRS will no longer identify earmarks for individual programs, activities, entities, or individuals,” stated a private Feb. 22 directive from CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan…The concern now is that free-spending appropriations committees will use the new CRS gag rule to define earmarks downward. “We need CRS to continue its reliable reporting so we can save the taxpayers money,” says Sen. [James] DeMint…
…CRS is merely being asked to continue providing objective data. If it can’t do that, why do taxpayers shell out $100 million a year to employ its 700 researchers?