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Senate committee modifies earmark rules

[JURIST] US Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) [official website] announced [press release, PDF] Tuesday that the Senate Appropriations Committee [official website] he chairs has agreed to adopt new standards governing so-called earmarks [CRS backgrounder, PDF] inserted by legislators into bills to fund special spending projects. The proposed ethics and earmark reform legislation will define the term "earmark" and will require that all earmarks be clearly identified in the committee bill and report, both of which will be published on the Internet. In addition, the legislation will mandate that Senators certify that neither they nor their spouses have a financial interest in any earmark. Byrd said the Senate Appropriations Committee will follow the standards until they are enacted into law. The Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 [PDF text; CRS summary] passed by the US Senate [JURIST report] in a 96-2 vote [roll call] in January proposed similar earmark reform rules, but that legislation has yet to receive approval from the US House of Representatives. AP has more.

In September, the US House adopted [JURIST report] a new rule requiring lawmakers to disclose their sponsorship of earmarks. H.Res. 1000 [summary] provides that earmarks can no longer be inserted anonymously and requires that bills coming out of committee, bills containing tax measures, and conference reports list all earmarks and the names of the congresspersons who requested them.

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