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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Bloated Spending Bills, Secret Earmark Slush Funds: What does the Majority have in store for Oklahoma?

June 18, 2007
Weekly Columns

Each year Congress considers 11 or more appropriations bills which provide funding for numerous activities like national defense, education, homeland security and crime. Earmarking refers to a provision in legislation, in this case appropriations bills, which direct funds to be spent on specific projects. Typically, legislators seek to insert earmarks which direct funding to a particular project in their home state.

There has been much controversy surrounding the congressional earmark process. Last year the House implemented sound earmark reform that brought accountability and transparency to the earmark process. The reforms required full disclosure of all earmarks and who requested them before the bill could be voted on in the House. It also gave Members the right to challenge, debate and vote on wasteful earmarks contained in the spending bill. I believe if an earmark is worthy of one cent of the taxpayers' money, it must be able to withstand public scrutiny. However, the Majority leadership tried to sneak billions of dollars in secret earmarks into annual appropriations bills.

Last November Americans made it clear that they are looking for a change in Washington. And the New Majority in Congress promised to deliver this change. They promised an open, honest Congress where taxpayer dollars would be accounted for and the process through which these dollars are spent would be above board and transparent. However, what they actually did was to repeal the 2006 earmark reforms put in place during the last Congress and made the congressional earmark process more secretive than ever.

Americans rightfully expect better from their lawmakers.  They have a right to know that their money is being spent wisely, prudently and in an open and honest fashion.  They should not tolerate the secretive process that the current Majority has adopted - a process they have embraced because they know their spending priorities will not survive public scrutiny.  Fortunately, House Republicans stood together on behalf of the taxpayers and forced the Majority leadership to back down from their secret earmark slush fund, and give members the right to challenge wasteful spending on the House floor.

Although forcing the Majority to back down on secret spending was a major victory for the taxpayers, their appropriations bills spend $81.4 billion more than the President requested.  These increases will drive up the deficit, increase taxes and ultimately cripple America's currently vibrant economy.  This is yet another example of Nancy Pelosi's agenda for bigger government and higher tax burdens.  This bill opens the floodgate of excessive spending, bloated government and tax hikes.  It is not what my constituents sent me to Congress to support.  As a common sense Oklahoman, I will continue to fight against the Washington spending trend and insist on transparency, insist on full disclosure, and insist on fiscal responsibility on behalf of the American taxpayers.

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