A day might yet arrive when earmarks are scrubbed clean from congressional budget making. Pigs might fly, too.
While neither event inspires one to hold his breath in anticipation, at least earmarks are becoming more transparent. They might get a squirt of disinfectant as well if Virginia's 5th District representative, Tom Perriello, has his way.
He is cosponsoring a bill dubbed the CLEAR Act, which stands for Clean Law for Earmark Accountability Reform. It would prohibit House members from accepting campaign contributions from executives or lobbyists for businesses and then sponsoring earmarks for those entities in the same election cycle.
In the second editorial, Luanne Traud, a member of the editorial board, praises Perriello for standing up against Congressional leadership, John Murtha specifically, to try to bring accountability to the earmark process. Saith Traud:
Tom Perriello isn't behaving like a freshly minted member of Congress. New back-benchers generally hope that one day, they, too, might rise to prominence. But first they need to demonstrate they are reliable, loyal party stewards so that they can gain the right assignments and, eventually, when they've put in the time, rise to chair an important subcommittee.
Perriello's independent streak has no time for rank-and-file allegiance. He has made haste to challenge entrenched House practices.
It's a courageous move, made all the more so because Perriello isn't just challenging the opposition party but is taking on power brokers within his own Democratic Party.
Perriello's accountability is rooted in ethics, transparency and a sense of developing good policies that benefit the many instead of the few.