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Nancy's 2009 Appropriations Requests

List of FY 2009 Appropriations Requests

Dear Constituent:

A recent Gallup survey asked Americans whether they had confidence in the United States Congress.  Only 14% said yes -- fewer than the number who trusted HMOs, unions, or "Big Business."

Why do Americans have so little confidence in Washington?  Probably because, for so long, Washington has done so little to earn their faith.

Consider the federal budget.  Americans entrust Congress with over three trillion of their tax dollars each year, yet Congress has consistently abused this public trust for private gain.

Under the rules that governed the federal budget for decades, any Member of Congress could secretly request taxpayer dollars for pet projects.  These requests, called "earmarks," were made behind closed doors and with virtually no oversight or accountability.

A system so shrouded in secrecy was practically begging for abuse, and sure enough, abuse ran rampant.  Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff used to brag to colleagues about his ability to secure earmarks for paying clients.  At least one elected official, Rep. Duke Cunningham, was found guilty in federal court of trading earmarks for bribes.
The earmark system was corrupt, unaccountable, and in desperate need of reform.

In principle, earmarks allow Members of Congress to devote funds to projects that are important to their district – and representatives can better judge their districts’ needs than some bureaucrat on the fourth floor of a Washington office building.  I want to make sure that Kansas taxpayers are getting their fair share of funds returning to Kansas projects – research at our universities, investment in our infrastructure and growth at our military bases.

In January of last year, the House of Representatives passed rules requiring every earmark enacted into law to include the name of its sponsor.  What's more, representatives must now sign a sworn declaration that they have no financial stake in their earmarks.

Under these new, more transparent rules, the total cost of earmarks in the 2008 federal budget dropped by 42% – the first decline in a decade.

Calls for further reform are quickly gaining momentum.  One proposal would require Congress to list all earmarks within the text of a bill, rather than in legislative committee reports (as has been a common practice in the past).  The idea is worth considering, but it seems to me that shifting earmarks from one venue to another is not enough to end corruption.  Instead, we must make the entire budget process more transparent.

That's why I'm sponsoring legislation to require all Member of Congress to post their earmark requests online – not just the earmarks they receive, but every earmark they request.  Taxpayers have the right to know how Congress wants to spend their money.

I began holding myself to this standard of accountability last June, when I posted my 2007 earmark requests to my Congressional website.  This was a sharp break from the traditional secrecy of the budget process:  CNN went so far as to call me a "maverick."  Maverick or not, it just makes sense that greater transparency will lead to a more efficient, more effective federal budget.

You can download the complete list at the link below.  You will likely agree with some of these requests and may not agree with others, but you will be able to see all of the requests I made.  This is a dramatic change from years’ past where Members of Congress only told people of the requests that were funded.

Over the course of the last year, Congress has taken first steps toward cleaning up its act.  But Americans will continue to overwhelmingly distrust Congress until it embraces transparency in every step of the budget process.

Rep. Boyda's signature
Nancy Boyda
Member of Congress

Nancy's FY09 Appropriations Requests ( 04/07/08 05:53 AM PST )