Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Something from awhile back

I have this folder in my email called "Blog Topics". It's a handy repository where I tuck interesting tidbits and links to web pages that I send to myself that I try to return to and post something from.

This is one such item. It's about nine months old but worth noting nonetheless. Check out this story from the Washington Times. I would have to file this one under "Too Suspicious to be Coincidence".

The federal agency that tracked pork-barrel spending during the 12 years of the Republican congressional majority has discontinued the practice since Democrats took power, riling lawmakers suspicious of the timing and concerned about the pace of fat being added to bills.

"To me, something doesn't smell right," said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican. "I just hope no one is pressuring" the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

While not blaming the Democratic leadership, Mr. DeMint added: "I guess if you're looking for a motive, you'd have to look in that direction."

CRS, a nonpartisan agency of the Library of Congress created to conduct research for members of Congress on legislative issues, changed its policy in February -- a month after Democrats took control of the Congress and vowed to curb the number of special-interest projects inserted into spending bills or even reports! that don't require a vote.

CRS Director Daniel P. Mulhollan developed the policy after consulting with "internal CRS appropriations experts" and deciding the service was redundant with what other agencies do, CRS spokeswoman Janine D'Addario said.

"His decision was strictly an internal decision," said Miss D'Addario, whose agency began providing Congress members with information on earmarks in 1994, when Mr. Mulhollan took over as director.

CRS said the Office of Management and Budget recently has been taking on a greater role in monitoring earmarks. And with both chambers of Congress this year establishing new guidelines and clearer definitions of earmarks, the agency said its role as a scorekeeper of earmarks is obsolete.

Several lawmakers, particularly those who had come to rely on the agency to identify the dollar value of earmarks in appropriations and other laws, were caught off guard by the change.

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