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Ted Stevens, who championed the infamous Bridge to Nowhere and threatened to quit the Senate if denied his pork, has quietly undermined another attempt at pork reform. Robert Novak reports that Stevens stripped a key requirement in the Defense appropriation that would have required a review of all earmarks:
Sen. Ted Stevens, considered the Republican king of pork, just before the pre-election congressional recess killed a requirement for the Defense Department to evaluate unauthorized earmarks imposed by members of Congress on the Pentagon.
Freshman Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma had won Senate passage of the ''report card'' as part of the Defense appropriations bill. The evaluation would show that the military really does not want most of the estimated $8 billion in earmarks added by Congress this year.
However, Stevens succeeded in stripping the reform from the final version of the bill before it was signed by President Bush. Coburn intends to try to pass the report card as a freestanding bill during the lame-duck session after the election.
The utter predictability of Ted Stevens somehow gives me a warm feeling in a world full of surprises. Once again, the porkmeister has decided that American taxpayers do not need to know how politicians like Stevens spends their money. In fact, he's decided that Congress doesn't need to know how the Pentagon views the cornucopia of pork that winds up in its appropriation.
Senator Coburn has done a tremendous job in pressing for openness and honesty in appropriations. Coburn has become the bete noir of Stevens and politicians like him, elected officials that use earmarks to bribe others into voting for expensive appropriations with little or no debate and also to ensure their own survival in districts and states filled with federally-funded projects. Some politicians still have not discovered that times have changed, and that their constituents are watching more closely than ever.
Speaking of which, be sure to check out the new federal spending database co-sponsored by OMB Watch and The Sunlight Foundation. It debuts later today, and I think it may be Kryptonite to Ted Stevens.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on October 16, 2006 6:42 PM
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