Today, the House is considering comprehensive reforms designed to re-establish the sense of trust between the people and their government by changing the way Congress does business. The Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act (H.R. 4975) focuses on bright lines of right and wrong, and stiffens penalties for breaking the rules by bringing greater transparency, disclosure, and accountability to government.

An important component of lobbying reform is cracking down on earmarks – line-items sometimes inserted into bills at the last minute, with little or no scrutiny, that often benefit lobbyists’ clients. Earmarks circumvent the normal legislative processes and erode confidence in government. Shining more sunlight on earmarks and bringing more accountability will help fundamentally change the way Congress spends taxpayer dollars, reduce the number of earmarks, and promote greater fiscal responsibility.

How does this bill do that? It increases transparency in the earmark process by requiring a list of earmarks - including the sponsor’s name - be included in an appropriations bill or report accompanying the bill. It will make it easier for Members to challenge these earmarks, and to let them pass or fail on their merits. It is a simple and important step towards reining in federal spending and ensuring Congress spends taxpayer dollars wisely.