WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today applauded committee passage of legislation that would require Members of Congress to make public detailed information regarding earmarked spending projects. Senator Casey is a cosponsor of the Earmark Transparency Act (S. 3335), which was introduced by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). The measure passed out of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs this morning.
“The Earmark Transparency Act is a necessary step in providing the American people with the information they need to have confidence that their government is operating in their best interest,” said Senator Casey. “By strengthening disclosure requirements associated with Members’ spending requests, we can increase transparency and accountability when it comes to government spending.”
The Earmark Transparency Act would create a public searchable database of all congressionally directed spending items. Members of Congress will be required to post detailed project information to the database within five days of making their requests to the Appropriations Committee. This central database will consolidate information about congressionally directed spending items and enable the public to access details of particular projects in a simple and more efficient manner.
While earmarks represent a small portion of the annual federal budget (about one half of one percent of all spending in fiscal year 2010), the need for transparency and accountability is essential to ensuring the public's confidence in this process. That is why Senator Casey has taken numerous steps to increase transparency on congressionally-directed funding. In 2007, he helped establish 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 the Senator supported now require Members of Congress to certify that they have no financial interest in the projects they have sponsored.