Levin blocks Earmark Transparency Act from vote

Pat McMahon Contributor

Democratic Sen. Carl Levin blocked the bi-partisan Earmark Transparency Act from coming to a vote during a committee hearing Thursday after expressing concern that posting all earmarks online would be too complex.

“This is a transparency bill,” the bill’s author, Republican Tom Coburn, said at Thursday’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, pointing out that President Obama called for publishing all earmark requests online during his 2010
State of the Union address.

“This is a bill President Barack Obama asked for,” Coburn said.

“He did not ask for this bill,” Levin countered, claiming that the bill goes “way beyond” having just one searchable website forearmarks.

Sen. Joe Lieberman suggested during the hearing that Coburn and Levin work out their differences, with the hopes of bringing the bill to a vote at the next hearing.

An earmark is an item inserted by a member of Congress into a bill to allocate funds to a specific recipient, and critics decry its lack of transparency. Coburn’s bill would mandate posting information on earmarks in bills — like what member is requesting it —online.

Coburn referenced as letter from the Secretary of the Senate, Nancy Erickson, who concluded that aggregating all the earmark requests onto a website is “technically feasible.” Along with Republican Sen. John McCain, Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold and Democrat Sen. Kirsten
Gillibrand, 26 senators are co-sponsoring the bill.