Feb 09 2006

Graham Wants to Reform Congressional Appropriation Process

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today joined with Senate colleagues to introduce the Pork Barrel Reduction Act (PBRA). “When I go home, one of the biggest criticisms I hear is ‘what are you doing up there with our money?’ said Graham. “This legislation will hopefully answer that question by opening up the budget process and making spending more transparent. I think the more people know, the less they’ll want us to spend.” Among the major provisions of PBRA:
  • Requires full disclosure of any and all earmarks included in bills. The provision requires a detailed description of all earmarks, including the identity of the lawmaker seeking the earmark and the earmark’s purpose.
  • Requires legislation to be filed and publicly available for at least 48 hours prior to floor consideration. This increases transparency and gives lawmakers, and the American public, time to review legislation before it receives a vote.
  • Requires recipients of federal dollars to disclose the amount of money that they spend on lobbyists. This provision reduces the likelihood taxpayers will unknowingly fund lobbyists who are promoting wasteful earmarks and working against the interests of hard-working taxpayers.
  • Creates a new point of order against unauthorized earmarks and policy riders. This point of order allows for the elimination of extraneous individual earmarks and policy riders. Under this provision, only the offending provision would be removed from the appropriations bill or conference report if a point of order was sustained, thus maintaining the integrity of the underlying bill.
  • Prohibits federal agencies from spending money on items and earmarks that were only included in unamendable committee or conference reports. This provision requires that all earmarks and spending items be in bill text, allowing for amendment and debate.
  • Strengthens current Senate rules against the conference report inclusion of matter not considered by the House or Senate. This provision prohibits consideration of conference reports containing matter not committed by either the House or Senate. Current rules allow for a point of order against reports with new matter, but many new provisions sneak by when they are attached to must-pass bills that can overcome the point of order.
“In years past, we’ve had some spending items that have been embarrassing and some that just haven’t passed the smell test,” said Graham. “At the end of the day, knowledge is power and we’re giving the American people knowledge about what we’re doing with their money.” According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress passed 3,023 earmarks in 1996, costing taxpayers $19.5 billion. However, last year that number grew to 15,877 projects, costing taxpayers $47.4 billion. Graham was joined in introducing the legislation by U.S. Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), John McCain (R-AZ), John Sununu (R-NH). #####