This week, there was a move afoot in the Capitol Building to put a new spin on an old slogan: what happens in Washington, stays in Washington.  Every year, the House starts the process of directing money to pay for all of the priorities of the federal government through twelve bills that must be passed by both the House and Senate.  In past years, as the Appropriations Committee considered the bills and brought them up for a vote, you would have found a public record of the funding requests of Members of Congress.

Unfortunately, this year Democrats in the House, led by Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wisc.), announced that earmarks would not be a part of the public appropriations bills being considered.  Instead, the projects would be air dropped into the twelve conference committee reports later this year with no opportunity to be amended by either the House or Senate.  This backroom deal would leave virtually no time for oversight and much more opportunity for abuse.  In fact, only Congressman Obey and his staff would have the final say as to what projects would be funded, creating in essence an "earmark czar."

After a public outcry and a united response by House Republicans, Democrats were forced to capitulate and end this plan of secretly funding earmarks.  I am not going to blame the entire Democrat Party for the decisions of its leaders, but in the people's House, public scrutiny should be a cornerstone of our debates.  We deserve an opportunity to know which projects being funded are proper and necessary and which projects are abuses of both authority and influence.