On 14 September 2006 the House of Representatives approved a new rule to require disclosure of all earmarks in tax and appropriations legislation. In very general terms, an earmark is a special provision inserted into appropriations legislation to fund a specific project of interest to one or more members of Congress.
Over the protest of several members of the House Appropriations Committee, House Resolution 1000 passed the chamber on a 245-171 vote. The resolution will require sponsors of earmarks placed in appropriations bills to be identified each year. Rules Committee chairman, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), who supported the rule change said, "the goal is to pull back the curtain on earmarks to the public."
Democrats on the Appropriations Committee who did not vote for the measure were concerned that the rule does not address the underlying problems with lobbying and ethics. Republican members of the Appropriations Committee disagreed with the measure because it is not equally applied to tax and appropriations bills.
The Senate is also working on rule changes to address earmarks in appropriation legislation, but many in Washington would be surprised to see the issue addressed before the 109th Congress adjourns.
back to Public Policy Reports