Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today made the following remarks regarding the recommendations of the Fiscal Reform Working Group:
“Republicans want to bring more sunshine and accountability to the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars. The earmark process needs fundamental reform, which is why I voted for a one-year earmark time-out. Senator McConnell was right to ask senators with diverse viewpoints to review how we manage appropriations, authorization, and tax bills. I am particularly pleased that the Fiscal Reform Working Group unanimously endorsed the Lugar Report, and I believe the Senate ought to implement its recommendations. These reforms would mean real change in the way Washington works.”
The working group was chaired by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and also included Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
The Lugar Report’s recommendations are below:
• Savings from stricken earmarks may be applied to the national debt rather than simply being spent elsewhere.
• All earmarks in appropriations, authorization, and tax bills must be placed in the bill text. This gives greater opportunity to challenge and strike air-dropped earmarks.
• Members should make available on their websites information on successfully inserted earmarks. Also, successful earmarks should be made public in a searchable format on the relevant committee’s website at least 48 hours before floor consideration.
• Senators must provide full justification for a requested earmark and state whether the requesting member, member’s family, staff, or staff’s family will benefit financially from the earmark.
• Congress insists the executive branch provide full justification and review for requested earmarks.