“House Republicans applaud the steps the President is taking to help restore public trust in their elected leaders by reducing the scope and number of wasteful earmarks. Now it’s time for Congress to go even further. On Friday, House Republican leaders sent Speaker Pelosi a letter asking her to join us in supporting an immediate moratorium on earmarks. To date, the Speaker, Majority Leader, and other members of the Democratic leadership have refused to say whether they’ll accept or decline our offer; instead they’ve simply attempted to change the subject.
“If Democratic leaders want to protect a broken earmark system, they should say so. If they want to fix it, we stand ready to work with them. Tomorrow, House Democrats will begin their retreat. We hope they will decide to join us in this bipartisan effort to fix Washington for the American people. The ball is in their court.”
NOTE: Last Friday, House Republican leaders sent Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) a letter calling on her to join House Republicans in endorsing an immediate moratorium on earmarks and to appoint a bipartisan, bicameral joint committee to reform the earmark process and eliminate wasteful spending. The GOP leaders asked Speaker Pelosi to respond to the request by February 1, 2008 – the end of the House Democratic Caucus retreat. In the letter, House Republicans also outlined a series of earmark reform standards they will adopt immediately, including:
- No more “monuments to me.” Lawmakers should not use taxpayer money to fund projects named after themselves.
- No more “airdrops.” The process by which Congress spends the American people's money should be completely transparent. Members of Congress should not circumvent transparency by airdropping earmarks into bills in conference at the last minute.
- No “fronts” (no pass-through entities). Taxpayer funds should not be laundered through “front” operations that mask their true recipients.
- Members of Congress who request earmarks should put forth a plan detailing exactly how the money will be spent and why they believe the use of taxpayer funding is justified. Members of Congress who “secure” earmarks should place these plans in the Congressional Record well in advance of floor votes on those earmarks.
- To improve accountability, Members of Congress should require outside earmark recipients to put up “matching funds” where applicable so that American taxpayers do not bear all the risk for such expenditures.
- The Executive Branch should be held accountable for its own earmark practices. The Executive Branch asks for earmarks, too, and has done so under administrations Democratic and Republican alike. Members of Congress should hold present and future Administrations accountable for the way in which taxpayer-funded earmarks are used.