Q: Who Watches the Watchmen? A: Actually, the Watchmen.

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Via Instapundit, John Fund reports that the Democrat-led appropriations committees seem to be choking off congressional reports on earmarks.

[T]he scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service (CRS)–a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency–has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. "They claim it'll be transparent, but they're taking away the very data that lets us know what's really happening," says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. "I'm convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS."

Indeed, the shift in CRS policy represents a dramatic break with its 12-year practice of supplying members with earmark data. "CRS will no longer identify earmarks for individual programs, activities, entities, or individuals," stated a private Feb. 22 directive from CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan.

When Sen. Coburn and Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina submitted earmark inquiries recently, they were both turned down. Each then had heated conversations with Mr. Mulhollan. The director, who declined to be interviewed for this article, explained that because the appropriations committees and the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) were now preparing their own lists of earmarks, CRS should no longer play a role in the process. He also noted that both the House and Senate are preparing their own definitions of earmarks. "It is not appropriate for us to continue our research," his directive states.

In related news, the DC Examiner finds that Maryland pols seem awfully disinterested in another earmark transparency measure, modeled after a law Coburn passed with Barack Obama. State pork is mildly less objectionable than federal pork (better that Montgomery County tax dollars pay for a bridge in Anne Arundel than tax dollars from San Bernadino or White Plains), but the bigger picture is of politicians trying to stuff the earmark genie back in the bottle and hope no one remembers how ugly it looked.

NEXT: Vanity Pork Butchered

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  1. Since the “party that cares” is in charge now, do we really need to be fussing with details? They do everything for the children you know.

  2. Despite claims they would bring reform, Congress’s new bosses are acting like the old bosses. Last Friday, Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake sought clarification from House Appropriations Chairman David Obey about an incorrect listing of a NASA earmark in the Iraq supplemental bill. Rep. Obey responded: “The fact is, that an earmark is something that is requested by an individual member. This item was not requested by any individual member. It was put in the bill by me!” In other words, Mr. Obey believes his own earmarks are nothing of the kind.

    Wow, this scumbag is exactly the kind of person I thought we’d get after the election as the chief appropriator: someone just as bad as the last guy (Jerry Lewis). A tin-plated pea-brained tyrant.

  3. No, no, no! The Democrats are different. Feel the honesty and integrity flowing through you.

  4. Feel the honesty and integrity flowing through you.

    And they support the troops too! Look how they are cutting off funding for training and support so the troops won’t get hurt.

  5. I have two poxes and two parties to give them to. How many does each one get?

    I’m definitely voting Bull Moose next time around. I’m bully for Teddy.

  6. PL,

    I’m voting Whig. And for Ohio State.

  7. Good luck with that. Georgetown looks pretty tough.

  8. In related news, the DC Examiner finds that Maryland pols seem awfully disinterested in another earmark transparency measure, modeled after a law Coburn passed with Barack Obama.

    I think he means uninterested.

  9. Ban the pork, it’s not kosher!

  10. I thought it would take at least until 2008 until the Dems looked like Repubs. Next up: lobbying scandals, graft, bribery, theft, lies and deceit.

  11. “The director, who declined to be interviewed for this article, explained that because the appropriations committees and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) were now preparing their own lists of earmarks, CRS should no longer play a role in the process.”

    So, what about this?

  12. Re: disinterested

    The WSJ is edited by grammar morons. This morning we also find an editorial

    Or perhaps the Iranians want to bargain with Mr. Blair’s successor, presumably Chancellor Gordon Brown, whom they might suspect would take a softer line at the U.N.

    The New York Times always gets it right.

  13. joe,

    RTFA.

    That is sophistry. The House rule making earmarks public, which was passed in January, doesn’t apply to earmarks for fiscal year 2007, the year Mr. Coburn wanted his report on. There is no Senate rule, and a proposed statute defining earmarks hasn’t become law. OMB’s list of earmarks applies only to fiscal year 2005.

    And in any case, CRS works for Congress, so it is bizarre for it to claim work being done by the executive branch as a reason to deny members information it was happy to collect and release in the past. When I asked a CRS official if the new policy stemmed from complaints by appropriations committee members, she refused to answer the question, citing “confidentiality” concerns.

  14. Now I miss the Republicans.

  15. I miss the Continental Congress.

  16. King George wasn’t so bad either.

  17. “King George wasn’t so bad either.”

    I’m available.
    “Off with their Heads!” I have been practicing in front of the mirror.

  18. This is a welcome kick in the soft spot that I had been growing for the Dems. Almost good enough to make me a masochist.

  19. Right on, Eulalie. One could make the case, in fact, that those Maryland pols are anything but “disinterested” when it comes to earmarks and transparency.

  20. Speaking of Watchmen, there’s a test shot of Rorschach in one of the trailers from 300.

    IGN has a screencap here.

    Zack Snyder is the current front runner to direct a movie version of Watchmen.

  21. RE that test shot:

    They better make his mask out of latex, and they’d better have it shift.

  22. I don’t think it has to be latex, but it should shift.

  23. King George wasn’t so bad either.

    I miss the olden days when the king — we said cyning back then — was just a leader of a big bunch of armed men who was a last-resort settler of conflicts, for a fee. Plus he enforced the “king’s peace,” but initially only on his own property, and a few key bridges and roads. Then the grabby statist Alfred “the Great” came along and started expanding his powers, and made the king into some kind of dictator.

    I miss the cyning.

  24. “They better make his mask out of latex, and they’d better have it shift.”

    Given the advances in motion tracking, 3d animation, and compositing in the last few years, my guess is that it would probably be an effect done in post.

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