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Shining a Light on Open Government: McCaskill Continues Effort to Ban Earmarks

July 21, 2010

For years, the earmarking process has been notorious for its secrecy and lack of oversight or accountability, with earmarks often being awarded based on political influence instead of on merit. As a result, McCaskill does not support earmarks and unfortunately, is only one of six Senators to not participate in this process. However, McCaskill still continues to look for any opportunity to reform the current earmarking system, which remains susceptible to waste and abuse, so that it becomes based on merit, rather than politics. She believes that American taxpayers deserve to know how their government is allocating their money.

Since arriving in Washington in 2007, McCaskill has refused to participate in and consistently supported reform of the earmark system.  Over the past few years she has:

  • Never requested earmarks. She is one of only six Senators who has refrained from participating in the broken earmark process, instead choosing to work to reform it.
  • Announced a bi-partisan moratorium with colleagues Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), John McCain (R-AZ) and Mark Udall (D-CO), which would apply to all bills in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013 and create a rule to allow members to raise points of order against any bill that includes an earmark. (11/16/10)
  • Cosponsored a resolution with Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) that would impose an immediate ban on any legislation containing any earmarks through FY2011. (2/4/10)
  • Sponsored an amendment to remove earmarks and restore funding to grant programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development including the Neighborhood Initiatives program and the Economic Development Initiative, two grant programs in which all the money has been used for earmarks since 2001. (9/23/09)
  • Sponsored a similar amendment to restore grant funding to the Department of the Interior’s ‘Save America’s Treasures’ program which provides funding to protect and preserve historical items and building on a competitive basis based on criteria laid out by the National Park Service (9/23/09)
  • Supported an amendment introduced by Senator McCain to protect Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant program funds from being earmarked. (7/8/09)
  • Sent a letter to the Department of Defense initiating an investigation into whether earmarks in recent years had been awarded competitively. (3/16/09). She has continued to express frustration over the delayed response from the Department of Defense. (10/16/09)
  • Pressured the Obama Administration on how President Obama's earmark rules would be implemented and whether there would be meaningful competition for earmarked funds. (3/16/09)
  • Offered a resolution to improve transparency in the earmarking process, clarify the rules, and increase restrictions to ensure public tax dollars are spent more efficiently and effectively. In addition to transparency measures, her measure would also eliminate earmarks for private companies and non-profit organizations, which would significantly strengthen restrictions on earmarks. (3/4/09)
  • Co-sponsored legislation with Senators McCain, Feingold, and Coburn that would allow Senators to challenge airdropped earmarks, which are added to a bill during House-Senate negotiations, after it has already passed both chambers of Congress. It would also require increased transparency in the process.  (1/7/09)
  • Procedurally challenged airdropped earmarks in a last minute effort to keep wasteful earmark spending out of legislation that she supports, such as the Farm Bill. (5/15/08)
  • Helped pass the strictest ethics legislation in years that strengthened the rules on earmarking. Following the passage of the bill, McCaskill sent a letter to her colleagues on the Appropriations Committee urging them to follow the spirit as well as the letter of the law regarding earmarks. (4/2/08)
  • Co-sponsored an amendment to the budget for FY09 that would require a one-year moratorium on congressional earmarks.  (3/13/08)
  • Voted to strip all earmarks from the Omnibus appropriations bill when she voted for an amendment offered by Senator McCain, although it did not pass. She also opposed final passage of the Omnibus bill, citing $7.7 billion dollars in earmark spending as one of the motivating factors in her decision-making process. (3/10/09)


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