Congressional Earmark Reform Website Comes Under Fire

Rob Bluey /

A congressionally approved website devoted to earmark reform is on the verge of falling victim to a petty political fight on Capitol Hill. The House’s chief administrative officer, Dan Beard, today told Minority Leader John Boehner that the site,, would have to come down because it doesn’t comply with House Administration Committee rules regulating congressional websites.

Boehner is protesting the decision, questioning the timing of Beard’s decision and complaining that it amounts to a “gag order.” The site launched on Feb. 12, just weeks after a united House Republican Conference asked Democrats to join them by immediately placing a moratorium on earmarks until the process could be reformed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the offer; so far, only Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) agreed to the terms of the deal.

Earmarks have continued to embarrass the congressional majority, just as they did when Republicans controlled Congress. Citizens Against Government Waste this week named Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) its “Porker of the Year.” And one week ago, National Journal’s CongressDaily reported that data from Taxpayers for Common Sense revealed House freshmen accounted for $263 million in earmarks; Democrat freshmen accounted for 90% of those pet projects.

Beard’s letter reverses a previous position issued by his office in August 2007, when the chief administrative officer gave Boehner’s staff permission to use the domain name. Roll Call contacted Beard’s office for an explanation. (more…)