Members of Congress have traditionally sought funding in annual spending bills for specific projects designed to spur economic development, improve infrastructure, foster innovation and strengthen vital social services. In many cases, this process provides the only means by which communities can obtain significant federal support for important projects.
While earmarks represent a small portion of the annual federal budget (about one half of one percent of all spending in fiscal year 2009), the need for transparency and accountability is essential to ensuring the public's confidence in this process. In 2007, I joined my colleagues in enacting new rules designed to strengthen the public's ability to identify the Congressional sponsors of these projects. As a result of these efforts, the name of the Member(s) of Congress who have advocated for a particular project now appear in the text of the statement accompanying the bill. Additionally, reforms that I supported now require Members of Congress to certify that they have no financial interest in the projects they have sponsored. These changes constitute an unprecedented commitment to reforming Congressionally-directed spending practices. As the 111th Congress continues its work, I will continue to support steps to further increase the transparency of this process.