Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said the Senate should enact earmark disclosure requirements now, without wasting time waiting for the House to approve S. 1 the Senate Ethics Reform bill. Enzi said American taxpayers should clearly see how their money is being spent.
"With this year’s appropriation cycle in full swing the Senate must act quickly to implement this important ethics reform," Enzi and four other senators wrote in an April 11 letter to the Senate Majority and Minority leaders. "If we are serious about changing the culture in Washington, we must be completely transparent about how we spend American tax dollars."
The resolution, if passed, would become binding and require disclosure of information related to earmarks in committee passed bills and must be available in a searchable format on the Internet. The information available would include the name of the senator requesting the earmark, the name and address of the recipient, the purpose and a certification the requesting senator and his or her spouse have no financial interest in the request.
Enzi’s letter urges Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to allow the Senate to unanimously approve Senate Resolution 123, the Senate earmark disclosure rule. The rule was included as an amendment to S.1, the lobbying and ethics reform bill, by a vote of 98-0 on Jan. 16. The House of Representatives has not acted on S. 1, which must happen before the bill can be signed into law. Because this important change will not go into effect in the Senate until President Bush signs S. 1, Enzi is looking for ways to ensure this important change is made in the Senate as soon as possible.
Senators who signed the letter plan to see it approved by unanimous consent on Tuesday April 17. Enzi hopes senators will follow through on the 98-0 vote they took earlier this year. If one senator objects to unanimous approval the resolution will not pass.
"Unfortunately, recent events indicate that the new Congress may be less inclined to shine light on the congressional favor factory than it previously claimed," the senators wrote. "No one opposed this rule when it was put to a roll call vote earlier this year and no one should object to it now."
Enzi and the other senators who sent the letter are members of the Republican Executive Steering Committee, a group of conservative senators who work together to promote fiscally sound and socially responsible policies.
A copy of the letter follows.
April 12, 2007
Dear Senators Reid and McConnell:
We are writing to notify you that we will seek unanimous consent to enact S.Res.123, the Senate earmark disclosure rule, on Tuesday, April 17.
As you know, this rule was passed the Senate by a vote of 98-0 as an amendment to S.1, the lobbying and ethics reform bill. Unfortunately, the House has not acted on this legislation and therefore, the Senate's new earmark disclosure requirements have not been enacted. With this year's appropriation cycle in full swing and other heavily earmarked bills being drafted, the Senate must act quickly to implement this important ethics reform.
S. Res. 123 requires disclosure of several types of information related to earmarks contained in committee-passed bills, which must be made available in a searchable format on the Internet. This includes the name of the senator requesting the earmark, the name and address of the intended recipient of the earmark, the purpose of the earmark, and a certification that the requesting senator and his or her spouse have no financial interest in the requested earmark. This is simple information that every senator should be willing to provide the public.
Unfortunately, recent events indicate that the new Congress may be less inclined to shine light on the congressional favor factory than it previously claimed.
For example, the Fiscal Year 2008 earmark solicitation form circulated by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development did not require the disclosure of the name or address of the intended earmark recipient, nor did it require certification that the requesting senator has no financial interest in the earmark. The earmark solicitation forms circulated by the Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior and Agriculture also failed to require the disclosure of these items, and the only requirement of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education was that earmark requests be submitted on time. These events clearly demonstrate that it's time for the Senate to stop dragging its feet on this critical issue.
In November, the American people demanded change in the way Washington operates. A central component of that change was reforming the earmarking process that has led to wasteful spending and political corruption. If we are serious about changing the culture in Washington, we must be completely transparent about how we spend American tax dollars.
S. Res. 123 will bring needed transparency to the earmarking process and we hope you will encourage every senator to support its immediate enactment. No one opposed this rule when it was put to a roll call vote earlier this year and no one should object to it now.
Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina)
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia)
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma)
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Senator Michael Enzi (R-Wyoming)