Drake on the Flake Amendments
Tuesday, August 08, 2006 :::
Rep. Thelma Drake was the featured speaker at the Tuesday Morning Group. I must say that, having never seen her speak in person before, she is quite personable and informed.
During the Q&A session, I asked about her votes against the series of amendments offered by Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake that would have stripped earmarks from a number of appropriations bills. Her answer was interesting: She opposed them all because she disagreed with Flake's methods, as well as those of RSC chairman Mike Pence. Drake believes such debates should remain private affairs, and any differences ought to be ironed out off the House floor.
She also questioned Majority Leader John Boehner's approach to earmarks (he does not request them for his district). Drake believes that if the money is there, it should be taken, with openness and pride.
I can appreciate the desire among some members to work these matters out in private. Nasty floors fights can and do tend to create rifts that may have long term consequences.
But the problem with this approach is that Congress has had ample opportunity to address earmark reform in private, to no avail. If anything, it seems to have accelerated the number and size of earmarks (what the rest of the world calls pork).
While Flake's methods -- exposing individual pork projects to floor votes -- could easily be characterized as brutal, or even grandstanding, they have done more to expose this process and force modest reforms than any behind-the-scenes discussions could ever have accomplished.
It's obviously ruffled feathers. But it's also the right thing to do.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 8/08/2006