Bennet-Backed Proposal to Increase Transparency, Accountability of Earmark Process Clears Key Committee Hurdle

Would Make Washington More Accountable to American People by Shedding Light on Federal Funding for Projects

Washington, DC – A bill cosponsored by Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator from Colorado, to increase transparency and accountability in the earmark process cleared a key committee hurdle this week, as the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs voted 11 to 5 to move the Earmark Transparency Act of 2010 to the full Senate.

The bipartisan bill would set up a user-friendly, online database taxpayers can use to sort, search and download earmark data.  The proposal closely mirrors a proposal to increase earmark transparency included as part of Bennet’s Plan for Washington Reform, which he unveiled earlier this year.

“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.”

The Earmark Transparency Act of 2010 would do the following:

  •   Create a user-friendly, online database where citizens can sort, search and download earmark requests and final approved projects;
  •   Provide details that are not currently available to the public: including the amount of an initial request, amount approved by the committee, amount approved in final legislation, sponsor name, sponsor state or district, project name, and other relevant information;
  •   Allow the public to see what Congress sees by requiring the website to include the earmark request letter written by a member of Congress and any documents supporting the request that it sent to a congressional committee; and
  •   Make information available quicker by requiring all requested earmarks that are approved to be made public before a vote.

Bennet does not request earmarks for private, for-profit companies.  He also goes beyond existing 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.

Other aspects of Bennet’s Plan for Washington Reform are also moving forward, as yesterday the Senate Rules Committee held a hearing on his proposal to reform the filibuster process and end secret holds.  For more information on that effort, please click here.