Friday, June 15, 2007

House halted on squabble over pork

From the San Franistan fishwrap:
For the second straight day, minority House Republicans ground the House to a standstill Wednesday as they drove home their objections to a Democratic plan to deny a floor vote on lawmakers' thousands of pet projects.

Public anger over the surging number of special member projects called earmarks -- derided as pork barrel spending -- was a factor in the Republicans' loss of House control last November, GOP members concede, and now they say they've gotten religion on the need for openness in government.

Charges of hypocrisy flew in floor speeches as House leaders huddled behind closed doors to seek a way out of a dispute that Republicans said showed Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi had backed down on promises of openness and disclosure made when they took power last January.

Democrats had hoped this week to pass four of the 12 annual bills that pay for federal operations beginning Oct. 1. Instead, Republicans have offered 116 amendments to a $37.4 billion Homeland Security spending bill -- the first of the bills on the floor -- in a bid to stall it. And on Tuesday they offered repeated motions to adjourn the House, each requiring a vote, keeping a wary House in session until 2:10 a.m. Wednesday.

Democrats argued Republicans were engaging in partisan attacks to try to embarrass Pelosi (yeah, like THAT would be tough to do! - Ed.). They charged the GOP lawmakers lacked credibility on earmarks, the number of which exploded during their 12 years of House rule.

The GOP does indeed lack credibility when it comes to earmarks. However...
"The new majority ran on a policy of openness, honesty and candor, and I suggest this is a policy that hardly promotes openness, honesty or candor," said Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.

When Democrats took over the House last January, they passed rules saying that members behind all earmarks had to be identified, and that earmarks on all spending bills would be identified "before members are asked to vote on them," as Rules Committee Chairwoman Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., told the House.

Taxpayers for Common Sense, an outside watchdog group, said earmarks must be disclosed early in the process.

"Taxpayers have the fundamental right to know about all earmarks. Both congressional and administration projects should be disclosed in legislation before the full House casts a single vote," the group's president, Ryan Alexander, said in a statement.

Congressman "Prostitution Ring" decided to chime in:
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., heaped scorn on the Republicans. "What's funny is that many of the Republicans who are fighting for the right to vote against earmarks ... never met an earmark they didn't like," he said.

Correct, Ms. Franks, your Republican counterparts were fond of earmarks when they held the purse strings. However, you guys vowed to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, right? Then you passed rules in the House that basically demand openness when it comes to pork projects, and now that you've been exposed as hypocrites, your only defense is "Yeah, well, the Republicans are hypocrites, too"? As if that makes your behavior somehow more palatable?

Labels: ,