Washington State Congressmen Adam Smith and (WA-09) and Dave Reichert (WA-08) introduced legislation, the Earmark Transparency and Accountability Reform Act (H.R. 3268), to reform the broken earmark system in Congress that has wasted taxpayer dollars and been abused for personal gain. This bipartisan effort, led by two members of Washington State’s congressional delegation, would set standards for accountability and transparency through more stringent measures as the earmarks are vetted through the Congressional budget process.

“Transparency ensures accountability,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “While many congressional earmarked projects – when vetted correctly and thoroughly – make positive and needed investments in our communities, some groups have found ways to manipulate the system in their favor. This must end and that is why I joined Congressman Reichert in introducing this legislation. We must continue to work to reform and bring transparency to the earmark process. This bill does just that.”

“Congress’ action to reform earmarks simply hasn’t gone far enough, and that is why we have taken the lead to reform the system with the best ideas from both sides,” said Reichert. “We are holding ourselves to these high standards and encouraging Congress to adopt them, bringing much-needed accountability to the entire process. Member projects or “earmarks” play an important role in our communities when they put federal dollars to good use, whether it’s to rebuild a road, or assist a hospital with a new project to save lives, but they must be done in a way that is accountable, transparent, that protects the taxpayer, and through a system the public can trust.”


Provisions in the bill to reform the system include:
  • Brings unprecedented transparency by requiring that any bill with an earmark be available online for review at least 72 hours before the legislation is brought to the House floor, all earmark requests be posted online for public review on the House Clerk’s website, and all earmark language must be incorporated into the text of the bill;
  • Enacts line item veto authority for earmarked bills;
  • Establishes a regular audit process for federally funded projects;
  • Requires disclosure of money spent by private groups lobbying on behalf of earmarks; and,
  • Prohibits earmarks from being slipped into bills after House/Senate passage.