Friday, June 22, 2007
More on earmarks...
The house appropriations committee oversees 12 annual bills that ensure government agencies continue to operate and receive funding.

The 12 bills also provide the opportunity for legilsators to add on their pet projects, known as earmarks.

Under the new rules adopted by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin, these earmarks will be available for public view once the bill has cleared a "mark up" by congressional staff.

Below are the earmarks that have passed initial approval by the House appropriations process and are now considered as part of the two attached bills.

Also, to see how members of Congress have responded to our requests to see their earmark requests, check out this graphic:



-- By Drew Griffin, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 12:18 PM ET
  14 Comments
Drew,

I e-mailed my Congress member, Jerry McNerney, like I said I would. I will let you know what he says as I asked for clarification as to what his "no" meant. I find it very interesting that other viewers were as surprised as I was that "my guy" was not a yes. I also intend to write a letter to the editor of my local paper after I hear back. I will either have a tip of my hat or a wag of my finger for Mr. McNerney whom I voted for and was over the moon when he won. Thanks for keeping them honest. However, I must say I will be torn about the legitimacy of ear marks if I find out that requests will be made for things I agree with like a new library in my city.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 1:02 PM ET
I looked over the bills and found the requests from my congressman reasonable. I still have not had a response on the request you made. I have gotten responses when I have emailed him before. Hopefully his requests will be on the list soon.

Thanks Drew!
Posted By Jess, Paris, KY : 1:06 PM ET
Thanks for continuing with this important issue. I was dismayed to find my Congress person on the list of "no response." I just emailed her and and asked her to kindly cooperate with CNN's request. Now that she knows my email address, I'll probably be getting a request for a donation as her response to me!
Posted By Barbara, Culver City, CA : 1:24 PM ET
I live in Louisiana, land of William Jefferson and the load of voters who re-elected him even as he sat in the midst of a federal investigation. In Louisiana, if someone is an honest politician, they're probably just visiting. I noticed one of our reps (who is running for governor) has made no response to you. Sort of makes me wonder what they're hiding when they won't be held accountable to those who've elected them. I'm at a point now where I don't vote for reincumbents who've done nothing to help the state, I don't vote for self-proclaimed reformed crooks or those who are friends with the crooks, and I don't vote for career politicians. In other words, I don't vote a whole lot. Hey, at least we're historically consistent in Louisiana with our corrupt do-nothing politicians. Maybe term limits would help with some of the nonsense in DC (seersucker suits included). Fat chance they'll cut out their perks in order to help those they supposedly serve. At least with an eight-year limit, some of the political inbreeding and corruption might be stopped. One can hope...
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 2:29 PM ET
I would enjoy this story more if you provided some perspective; perhaps compare the value of the earmarks to the entire federal budget. I found this linked off Kevin Drum's Political Animal blog:

For fiscal year 2005, total federal spending was $2,472 billion (pdf) (Table 1.1). The cost of earmarks according to the Bush administration was less than $19 billion. Now to any person, business, or even state government, $19 billion is a lot of money. To the feds, however, not so much. Without a doubt, some wonderful things could be done with $19 billion, maybe by the government, maybe by you, but it hardly explains the extent of the federal deficit, which was $318 billion in 2005.

So even if you manage to completely eliminate congressional earmarks, you have only cut less than six percent of the federal deficit and less than one percent of the total federal budget.

For some perspective, check out the Washington Post article of May 23, 2004, which describes how a bunch of 20-somethings with solid neo-con credentials were given 13 billion by the Coalition Provisional Authority to 'rebuild Iraq'. I'd be interested to know what we have to show for that expenditure.

At least the congressional earmarks are buying us some conservation districts and groundwater improvement projects and so on. I bet the Iraqis which they'd gotten as much for their 13 billion...
Posted By Arachnae, Sterling VA : 4:02 PM ET
Yikes ! Acc. to your linked Congressional shopping list, $172 million for executive office buildings in -- guess where? -- Washington, D.C.

What? Can't they make do with the offices they've got?
Posted By xtina - chicago IL : 4:27 PM ET
I maybe completly wrong, but don't you thing that publishing this information is not a good idea?

Let's say, how good is it for everybody in the world to know exactly what is going on in every single region of US?

I do believe there are some topics that the Government should not make available for the general public, that serious jornalists like yourself should investigate, understand and publish conclusions, but I do not agree on actually publishing the data.

I do believe in government transparency, and in my opinion, this is completly different from send you a list to be published on the Internet.
Posted By Tila, Los Angeles : 5:41 PM ET
I e-mailed my congresswoman, Diane Watson, and asked why she had not responded and what was she hiding. She's usually very vocal, so her non-reply was a suprise. Checked the box asking for a response. Thought she would have had a boilerplate answer by now, but nothing. Will forward if I get a response. Not holding my breath.

Nancy, Los Angeles, CA
Posted By Nancy, Los Angeles : 8:22 PM ET
I reviewed the list of earmarks and did find the ones identified by my local politician. Personally, I believe that many of the items identified should be funded by the industries that they benefit or by the local or state governments. Why is it that Federal taxes go to pay for city, county or state specific projects?
Posted By Glenda C., Palm City, Florida : 9:31 AM ET
Thanks for doing this Drew... I'm going to contact my congressman(Don Young) and see what he says to me when I ask him about his earmarks.

You should also list out these congressmen on another page in columns(eg: no response, no earmarks, gave list of earmarks) to give a visual perspective of how many of our congressmen are being honest.
Posted By Jake Pernula, Juneau AK : 3:22 AM ET
Drew, my congressman (Ben Chandler) responded to my email about earmark spending. He said he believes in being open, yet on your list he had no response. I am disturbed by this. Please keep up with this story.
Posted By Jess, Paris, KY : 2:24 PM ET
Thanks so much for informing the people! I just emailed my representative (Barton - TX) to see what his response will be. I'm on vacation right now from school so I have LOTS of time to do follow-ups. haha. Hopefully though Barton will give a reasonable response and I can forward onto you. Hmmm, perhaps I should major in politics instead of graphic communication? haha.

Take care.
Posted By Lisa -TX : 5:03 PM ET
With regards to the war on terrorists,
there is one thing the american people should remember about the
President Busch: This President
has KEPT THE TERRORISTS OUT OF THIS
COUNTRY BY HIS DETERMINATION AND
CONVICTION.and this above all the
things that he is accused or hated for. IT REMAIN THAT HE HAS KEPT THE CITIZEN OF THIS COUNTRY SAFE
fROM THOSE FANATICS AND THIS MY FRIEND IS THE FIRST PROIORITY OF AN ELECTED PRESIDENT. I REST MY CASE. THANK YOU.
Posted By Charles Plante a canadian : 12:11 AM ET
Hi Drew. I just received an email from my Texas senator in regards to "transparency" in government. I thought I would share a few lines with everyone.

"Open government is one of the most basic requirements of any healthy democracy. It permits the honest exchange of information that ensures government accountability, and it allows taxpayers to know where their money goes."

"The state of Texas boasts one of the strongest open-government laws in the nation."

I thought his views were very interesting considering so many Texas reps haven't responded and our President is taking the "executive privledge" road when it comes to sharing information about this administration.

Thanks Drew for your work. I've been a fan of yours since you were on CBS (Los Angeles).

Take care.
Posted By Lisa - North Texas : 2:12 PM ET
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