Is Hell Freezing Over?

With Robert Byrd about to take over as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, my instinct is to keep a firm grip on my wallet. But Byrd says he is willing to forgo earmarks, at least for the next year:

Sen. Robert Byrd has built a reputation in Congress and in West Virginia using special interest funding to bring federal jobs and money home, but the king of pork said he’s willing to give up his projects for 2007 to find a way out of the ” fiscal chaos” left by the outgoing Republican-led Congress.
Byrd, incoming chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and his House counterpart Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin outlined their plan late Monday to pass a yearlong stopgap spending bill to keep government programs and agencies functioning until Sept. 30, 2007. To expedite the process, Byrd and Obey said they would eliminate earmarks — funding inserted into bills by lawmakers for projects in their district or states — from the unfinished budget.
In a joint statement, Byrd and Obey said, “There are no good options available to us to complete the unfinished work of the Republican Congress. There will be no congressional earmarks in the joint funding resolution that we will pass. We will place a moratorium on all earmarks until a reformed process is put in place.”
Byrd and Obey said earmarks in the 2007 House and Senate bills would be eligible for consideration in the 2008 budget but would have to pass tougher review to survive.

I have to think the earmark process will be back in business for FY 2008, but even a one-year moratorium is a good thing. And who knows? Maybe if Congress goes cold turkey for a year–or is that cold pork?–it can break the habit.
Via Power Line News.
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