By Rep. John Carter (R-TX)
June 12, 2007 (H6271)
I am concerned, and I wish to express the concern that in the appropriations process this year there is a lot that is going to be done in the dark. In this particular bill, it is a very small item as compared to what is coming down the road at us, but there is $16 million for bridges which we won’t know exactly how that is going to be spent for this House to examine it, but it will be “air dropped” in in the conference committee. That is an indicator of what we are looking at as we deal with Member-initiated spending with the nickname of “earmarks” in the future.
At present, the plan is to set aside the money but not tell us how to spend it, and, oh, by the way vote for it. But I think in the last election the American people told us that they wanted sunlight on this process. They wanted to be able to see how we spend our money, including they wanted our names put on the things that were individually requested. In fact, the Republican House passed such a rule, to put the names on every earmark.
Yet we see in a very small part in this bill, and much expanded in the bills to follow, that there is going to be no sunshine on this process. In fact, it is going to be inside closed doors in the conference committee where there is really not a whole lot this House can do about it.
With increased nonemergency spending of $81.4 billion, these are issues that American people want to know about it. They want their elected Representatives to take a look at it and be able to figure out how the money is being spent. We debated this process the last session of Congress. We made it important to us as individual Members. We talked about it and discussed it and voted on it.
Now, all of a sudden, we have a process that has gone behind closed doors in secrecy, and as we vote these things out, as Members of Congress we are voting a bill which has a fund set-aside which we are not told how that fund is going to be spent. We are told it could be published over the break. This is inexcusable.