An era of openness in Congress? Hardly, it seems, according to CNN.
The cable news outlet, in digging through the thousands of requests from Congressmen for local spending projects, asked each of the 435 members of the House of Representatives to give a detailed list of what they wanted to be funded.
Of Georgia’s current 12 members — the 10th District seat is still vacant pending a special election to fill the void left by the late Charlie Norwood — only two responded with their spending wish list for their districts, Tom Price (R-Roswell) and Nathan Deal (R-Gainesville). Price listed his earmarks request; Deal made none.
Two representatives, Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Sharpsburg) answered CNN’s request but did not provide a list. The rest — including John Barrow (D-Savannah) and Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) — never got back to CNN.
Georgia’s Congressmen are the norm, rather than the exception. In CNN’s original findings, only 35 of the 435 House members submitted a list of spending requests in their districts. Seventy others did not. The remainder — 324 — did not respond.
Since then, 10 other Congressmen have forwarded their earmarks and the number of those who acknowledged getting the request but deciding not to submit the list fell to 68. That still leaves more than 300 representatives not answering the call.
None of Georgia’s remaining eight representatives were part of the 10 who also offered up their earmarks. Among the congressmen telling CNN “No” was David Obey of Wisconsin’s 7th District. He’s also the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which means he sits at the top of the request chain, and he had initially positioned himself to be decided which of the 31,000-plus spending requests would go through and which wouldn’t.
According to CNN, the previous Congress approved $29 billion in spending in earmarks, the kinds of things that build roads or bridges in some particular district or go to such things as stormwater utility programs and libraries.
But Americans were promised more light would be shone on the process after free-spending Republicans were sent home in the last elections. Instead, it appears we’re getting business as usual.