Bennet: Senate Should Follow House's Lead on Rejecting Private Company Earmarks

House Leaders Embrace Bennet Plan to Prohibit Corporate Pork

Washington, DC - Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, who doesn't request private earmarks and recently proposed a plan that would require Congress to do the same, is urging the Senate to follow the lead of House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey's efforts within his committee to reject all requests for earmarks by private companies.

Chairman Obey's decision to reject for-profit earmarks comes on the heels of Bennet's announcement of his Plan for Washington Reform, which calls for a total ban on earmarks to private, for-profit companies and institutions.

"Chairman Obey made the right move in rejecting earmarks for private companies, and the Senate should swiftly follow suit," said Bennet. "Private companies primarily have the interests of their shareholders in mind, and their involvement in the earmarks process has proved too often to be inappropriate. The prospect of private earmarks can create the appearance of a pay-to-play atmosphere, which Congress must be careful to avoid."

In addition, Chairman Obey indicated that the Appropriations panel will also require audits of at least 5 percent of all earmarks directed to nonprofit entities, a threshold similar to one proposed by Bennet in his Plan to Washington Reform.

"While today's announcement is a step in the right direction, we can and must go further. The earmarks process should take place in the light of day, completely open and transparent for the American people to see," said Bennet. "There's no reason to wait for the law to change. Members of Congress should lead by example and start doing this now."

Specifically, Bennet's Plan for Washington Reform calls for the following changes with respect to the earmark process:

  • Ban earmarks to private, for-profit companies and institutions.
  • Make earmarks transparent
  • Members of Congress must report all earmark requests they receive and all earmarks requests made
  • Earmarks.gov should list all earmarks requests, sortable by member of Congress
  • Hold Members of Congress accountable on earmark requests
  • All earmark requests above $1 million should go before the Appropriations Committee
  • Hold earmarks recipients accountable
  • Each year, a certain percent of all earmarks will be audited to ensure that taxpayer money is being spent wisely. These reports should be made public on earmarks.gov

For more information on Bennet's Plan for Washington Reform, which was unveiled last week, please click here.