US Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) announced Tuesday that the Senate Appropriations Committee he chairs has agreed to adopt new standards governing so-called earmarks inserted by legislators into bills to fund special spending projects. The proposed ethics and earmark reform legislation will define the term "earmark" and will require that all earmarks be clearly identified in the committee bill and report, both of which will be published on the Internet. In addition, the legislation will mandate that Senators certify that neither they nor their spouses have a financial interest in any earmark. Byrd said the Senate Appropriations Committee will follow the standards until they are enacted into law. The Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 passed by the US Senate in a 96-2 vote in January proposed similar earmark reform rules, but that legislation has yet to receive approval from the US House of Representatives.
In September, the US House adopted a new rule requiring lawmakers to disclose their sponsorship of earmarks. H.Res. 1000 provides that earmarks can no longer be inserted anonymously and requires that bills coming out of committee, bills containing tax measures, and conference reports list all earmarks and the names of the congresspersons who requested them.