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Dramatic Growth In Pet Project Spending

Cox News : An explosion in the use of earmarks, Congress members' way of funding pet projects without public scrutiny, is fueling new efforts to trac

Cox News :

An explosion in the use of earmarks, Congress members' way of funding pet projects without public scrutiny, is fueling new efforts to track the practice amid fears of rising corruption.

The number of earmarks has surged nearly fourfold over the past decade to 15,877 last year, according to the Congressional Research Service, the nonpartisan research arm of Congress.

Most earmarks fund legitimate projects such as cancer research, road improvements and education programs.

But the propriety of others has been called into question, such as the $220 million "bridge to nowhere" funded by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, to link an Alaskan island with fewer than 50 people to a town of 8,000.

Critics say the earmarks are passed without any public hearings or input. Most are slipped into bills during closed-door meetings of House and Senate appropriators.

Earmarks are so closely guarded before the final passage of spending bills that most lawmakers do not even know what they are voting for. Read on...

Luckily, the Senate unanimously approved the Coburn-Obama bill for transparency in spending :

House and Senate leaders reached agreement Friday on a bill that would pry open the murky world of federal contracting to public scrutiny.

The deal came one day after the Senate unanimously approved legislation to create a searchable database of more than $1 trillion in federal spending on grants, contracts, insurance and financial assistance.

A similar House measure would have limited the database to grants. Under the agreement, the database would include all types of federal spending except entitlements and secret intelligence projects. [..]

Given the strong support from leaders of both parties in both chambers, it will likely pass and head to President Bush for his signature. There are no known White House objections. Read on...

Let's see if there's a "signing statement" from the White House saying that they won't participate in turning over their spending records for public view.

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