Democrat President Barrack Obama signed the 410-billion dollar spending bill Wednesday that had thousands of earmarks in it — and then along with House leaders announced proposed reforms to the earmark process.
Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley , a Democrat from Waterloo, today defended the "earmarks" that send money to a project in the sponsoring legislator’s state.
Braley says, "I’ve always taken the position that the role of earmarks as long as it’s conducted in a transparent manner and the public has confidence that there is not an abuse of that system, is a vital role for Congress to play in making sure that the interests of the district they represent is being considered as part of federal spending." Braley says he’s taking note of the reforms.
Braley says he hasn’t analyzed the specifics of the president’s comments as he has the looked at the House speaker’s comments on the reforms, including the increased executive review process, and the competitive process for reviewing earmarks of for-profit entities. Braley says he has no major concerns with the proposed earmark reforms.
"I think that these reforms are good and I think that they will continue to allow members like myself to be strong advocates of projects that will put people to work back in their district," Braley says. Braley has been touted as a leader in the U.S. House in bringing money back to the first district. He was asked if the new reforms would hamper his efforts.
Braley says: "It just depends, because there’s a great misunderstanding about the percentage of the overall discretionary budget that goes to earmarks. By imposing the one-percent cap (on earmarks), there will be a finite amount of money available, and my guess is that there will be a strong bipartisan efforts to make sure that there is an equal division of those resources to the 435 districts that exist."
Republicans criticized Obama for signing the legislation after he had spoken out against earmarks during his campaign. Obama says the bill was not perfect but necessary to keep the government running. Braley’s office issued a news release that said he had secured 42-million dollars in the spending bill for "critical eastern Iowa projects."