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Transparency Bill Would Create Earmark Website

June 25, 2010 - by Hilary Worden

In his 2010 State of the Union address, Obama called on Congress to “to publish all earmark requests on a single Web site before there’s a vote, so that the American people can see how their money is being spent.” A pair of bi-partisan bills (S.3335 in the Senate and H.R.5258 in the House) would do just that. Titled the Earmark Transparency Act of 2010, the bills would make information about earmarks easily accessible online.

A mere six pages, the bills are fairly straight-forward. Within six months, the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate would set up a website, freely available to the public, listing all earmarks. For each earmark, the website would have over a dozen pieces of information, including the name of the requestor(s), the amount requested, the amount approved, and the recipient(s). Users would be able to search earmarks by any category, and to download everything in a machine-readable format. Information would be put on the website no more than seven business days after it became available.

Both bills were introduced in May. The Senate version was nearly voted out of committee yesterday, but Senator Levin [D-MI] raised objections, saying it would not be feasible to aggregate the data that the bill required (despite Senator Coburn’s [R-OK] attempts to explain that it could be done). The bill will be not be discussed again until July; however, as ten of the committee members are co-sponsors of the bill, it’s unlikely to have trouble making it to the Senate.

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