Doing something about earmarks.

The House is considering a rule that would require reporting of earmarks along with the Congressmen who support them (HT CQ). Such a rule is long overdue and has a very significant chance of reducing the pork budget. However in the House it seems that it will be less effective than it would be in the Senate. Having your name next to a pork project would be almost a mark of pride and a help for election, almost like a gang tattoo. An important addition to this bill would be a requirement for a two-pronged bill process. First the amount of money in a bill must be voted on. This limit would be binding for the next stage of the bill, which would be the distribution of the money. In a case of a conflict with the Senate the bill with the lesser amount of money would be chosen unless that house of Congress chose to amend their bill. After the first bill was passed there would be a vote to determine how the money was spent. This bill would have to pass both houses as the same amendment including all earmarks. This would reduce earmarks in two ways. First it would mean that earmarkers would not have an easy time passing the amendments. The other earmarkers would be fighting for the funds and the non-earmarkers could build a base of support as well as have a easier fight on the amount of money in a bill.

The Democrats don’t care about this bill in principle for the most part. They desparately don’t want this bill passed. This is probably the second most divisive issue in the Republican party today (immigration is #1). So Emanuel is trying to add an amendment which will probably be considered out of order to get this issue back on the Democrats side. Getting rid of earmarks will not only save money, but it will help get out the third party, the party of old entrenched money-spenders. Combined with the federal database this could be a bill key towards helping the country back to more competitive races.

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