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Oberstar Less Stringent on Earmarks

“The bar has been moved higher by another Democratic chairman,” he said. “The most infamous earmark of all came from this committee, and they aren’t going to be completely transparent.”

“The Appropriations Committee has proven Members can do it — nobody died,” Ellis said.

The scandals that were uncovered as a result of the earmarks placed into the $244.1 billion Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users in 2005 will live far beyond its expiration in September.

Two earmarks from that bill — Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere and the “Coconut Road” earmark inserted into the bill after the legislation had passed — have become ultimate earmark cautionary tales and talking points for lawmakers rallying against excessive spending.

More than 6,000 projects were included in SAFETEA-LU, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Ellis said SAFETEA-LU was “a smorgasbord of road projects that are very hard to track and understand,” and extra efforts at keeping the current bill as clear as possible would be “common-sense good government.”

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