Earlier this month, Rep. David Obey, the Democratic chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, sent his Republican colleagues a letter that forced a simple choice: join in earmark reform, or submit their orders for pork, well done, by March 19th. (The back story is convoluted but boils down to this: some in the GOP, which for years presided over ballooning government spending in part by diverting ever more billions to pointless projects in their districts, have now found religion, and have used the issue to attack Democrats, much to the distress of...others in the GOP.)
So how did the Republicans react? According to Congressional Quarterly, with a last-minute barrage of earmark requests so great that it brought down the Appropriation Committee's servers. But fear not: the Committee has generously extended the deadline for submitting those requests through today -- a sign, no doubt, of further generosity to come. CQ reports that the extension gives Republicans time to figure out useful new rules dictated by the party brass, which among other things prohibit projects named after the member. Bad for them -- good for their contributors.
The Republicans instituted these unilateral restrictions after the House failed to pass a one-year moratorium on earmarks. It might have passed had 38 Republicans not voted against the measure. (Sadly only four Democrats voted for it.) A similar Republican initiative in the Senate died a late-night death couple weeks ago.
Earmark Reform? Never heard of it.