The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 28, 2008

Fact Sheet: President Bush Takes Action to Prevent Wasteful Earmarks
Announces Executive Order, Pledges Veto

Too many earmarks, too little accountability. Earmarks are provisions often snuck into legislation not subject to legislative or public scrutiny and that often lead to wasteful Federal spending. Earmarks have tripled in number over the last decade and have increased spending by billions of dollars. Most earmarks are not even included in legislative text and are not subject to an up or down vote of Congress.

Earmark reform will help eliminate wasteful spending. Taxpayer dollars should be spent wisely or not at all. That's why it's necessary for the number and cost of earmarks be reduced, that their origin and purposes be transparent, and that they be included in the text of the bills voted upon by the Congress and presented to the President.

On Tuesday, President Bush will issue an Executive Order directing Federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on and included in a law approved by Congress. This will effectively end the common practice of concealing earmarks in so-called report language instead of placing them in the actual text of the bill. This means earmarks will be subject to votes, which will better expose them to the light of day and help constrain excessive and unjustified spending.

The President in the State of the Union will pledge to veto any appropriations bill Congress sends him that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half. Last year, President Bush asked Congress to voluntarily cut the number and cost of earmarks in half and to refrain from slipping earmarks into committee reports that never come to a vote in Congress. Unfortunately, neither goal was met – the FY08 appropriations bills passed by Congress contained more than 11,700 earmarks totaling almost $17 billion. If the Executive Order does not induce Congress to be accountable and get excessive earmarks under control, this veto warning will help ensure real discipline against excess and waste.

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