John Fund: So much for the Democrats getting rid of earmarks

But the claim of "earmark" purity doesn't stand up to scrutiny. New House rules stipulate that a bill can be said to have "no earmarks" if the committee chairman under whose jurisdiction the bill falls simply declares there are no earmarks in it. As Humpty Dumpty said in "Alice in Wonderland": "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."

The "no earmarks" loophole was big enough to allow a convoy of earmarks into the final bill, including $185 million for agricultural research projects and $50 million to build an experimental rain forest in Iowa. "I can give you a list of projects in my district that are gone from the bill, but they're certainly not gone in West Virginia and Nevada," Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole told me yesterday. He didn't have to elaborate that those two states are the homes of Senate appropriations committee chairman Robert Byrd and Majority Leader Harry Reid.



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