Congress to Produce Earmark Data?
A bill introduced in the Senate yesterday would require Congress to bring earmarks out of the shadows, producing earmark data in a format that the public can easily use.
S. 3335 would require Congress to establish a “unified and searchable database on a public website for congressional earmarks.”
This is something President Obama called for in his 2010 State of the Union speech, though we haven’t heard much more from him about it since then.
The bill was introduced by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), and is currently cosponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).
Importantly the bill is not just about a web site. The bill would enable the public to “programmatically search and access all data in a serialized machine readable format via a web-services application programming interface.” That gobbledegook means that people could access the data for themselves, slicing and dicing it to learn whatever they wanted or display it however they want. We’ve started mapping data for this year’s earmarks here.
Our campaign to get earmark data from Congress is at Earmarkdata.org. There is a petition there for you to sign, and we recommend asking your member of Congress and senators to support the earmark data effort.
In the meantime, here’s the vote on S. 3335. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article about the bill.