Congressman Garamendi Supportive of Ban on For-Profit Earmarks this Year
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA) today issued the following statement after the House Appropriations Committee announced that it will not approve requests for earmarks that are directed to for-profit companies.
"I commend the leadership of Chairman Obey and the House Appropriations Committee in reforming the Congressional earmark process, and I support their decision to ban for-profit earmarks," Congressman Garamendi said.
If this rule had been in effect last year, it would have resulted in 1,000 fewer earmarks. To assure compliance, the Committee will also require agency Inspectors General to audit at least 5% of all earmarks directed to non-profit entities. This new oversight measure is to ensure that earmarks go to their intended purposes and to prevent for-profits from masquerading as non-profits. Additionally, the Committee will establish an online “one-stop” link to all House Members’ appropriations earmark requests to enable the public to easily view them.
"By banning for-profit earmarks, Chairman Obey continues an extensive reform of the earmark process," Garamendi added. "Under the Republican Congress, special interests ran roughshod over the public interest, best exemplified by the Bridge to Nowhere proposal in Alaska. In 2005, earmarks totaled 15,800 and cost $27 billion. Under the Democratic Congress, earmarks were reduced in scale and dramatically improved by tailoring them towards the public interest. Compared to 2005, earmarks in FY 2009 appropriations were cut by 30% and their cost was reduced by 60%."
For-profit companies will still have opportunities to acquire federal money for worthy projects, but they will be obligated to go through a competitive process at the administration level where they will be judged on their merits.
"I am currently in the process of reviewing appropriations requests that were made to my office on behalf of cities, counties, community colleges, and other governmental and non-profit stakeholders," Garamendi added. "There are many worthy projects to consider impacting transportation, water resources, flood protection, public safety, education, and more. We have some tough decisions to make in prioritizing these projects, but I am confident that our final list will widely be seen as a collection of worthy projects that will improve our communities and create needed jobs."