Bennet: Washington Must Increase Transparency, Accountability of Earmark Process

Bennet Introduces Bill to Make Washington More Accountable to American People, Shed Light on Federal Funding for Projects

Washington, DC – Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today introduced a bill that would increase transparency and accountability of the earmark process.  

“In a democracy, taxpayers can’t hold politicians accountable if they can’t follow the money trail,” said Bennet.  “We need to shine as much light as possible on Congress’s appropriations process to better ensure that politicians are being held responsible for the choices they make with taxpayer dollars.”

Specifically, the Clean Up Earmarks Act of 2010 (CUE Act) would:

  •     Ban earmarks to private, for-profit companies;
  •     Require random audits of 5 percent of Senate earmarks, divided among smaller and larger programs, and programs requested by members of each political party and by both appropriators and non-appropriators;
  •     Strengthen the rule preventing members from quietly sliding an earmark into a conference report, by requiring a two-thirds vote on any conference report where such an ‘airdrop’ has occurred;
  •     Require that earmarks appear in the actual language of the bill that enacts them, instead of being buried in report language that is difficult for the public to find and understand;
  •     Make improvements to web disclosures of earmarks, including making earmarks searchable by any lobbyist associated with them; and
  •     Mandate public hearings on any earmark in excess of $5 million and recommend public hearings on any earmark in excess of $1 million.

Bennet does not request earmarks for private, for-profit companies.  Also, he goes beyond the public disclosure requirements by placing on his website all earmark requests that his office receives, including the ones that he does not submit to the Appropriations Committee.

As part of his Plan for Washington Reform, Bennet has already introduced a bill that calls for a responsible, practical reform of the filibuster and a bill that limits the influence of Washington lobbyists and closes the revolving door.

In total, Bennet's Plan for Washington Reform will limit increases in salaries of Members of Congress; usher in sweeping changes that will limit Members of Congress and their staffs from becoming lobbyists; provide more transparency and accountability in the earmarking process; reform the filibuster in a responsible and practical way; eliminate secret holds; and implement new rules for campaign finance.