“Anybody up here who requests $48 billion should be impeached,” Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri Democrat, told me when I asked him about reports that he proposed a $48 billion ear mark in the House spending bill.
According to the House Appropriations Committee rules since the beginning of 2009, members of Congress are required to publicly post and explain all of their earmark requests. However, as the Wall Street Journal explains:
For almost all the House members requesting earmarks for the 2011 fiscal year which began Oct. 1, that means posting a list of all the earmarks they’ve sought. (Five Democrats and almost all House Republicans did not request any earmarks this year.)
But three House Democrats — Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, and Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan — instead posted details of all the earmarks requested by constitutents, but didn’t say which ones they actually sought.
Lamar Mickens heads up a non-profit that requested the $48 billion through Mr. Cleaver but was unaware if the congressman responded to the request.
“First of all, this guy submits a $48 billion request each year, and he and everybody else in my district that submits a request are told that this will be on the website, and I do that so people will know that I’m not going to receive their request,” said Mr. Cleaver. “Sometimes they work really hard putting it together, and I throw it in the trash, so we put it on the website. We’ve been doing that since 2004 before it was a requirement. We put every single request on our website. There’s no such thing as a $48 billion request,” Rep. Cleaver told me.
A Missouri newspaper previously reported Rep. Cleaver “proposed” the $48 billion as an earmark but has since made a correction:
“Earmarks are funds requested by a member of Congress to be placed in an appropriation bill,” Cleaver’s website explains. “These bills fund the government’s many programs and operations and carry with them federal funds that can be used by local governments and organizations. In an effort to make this cryptic process more transparent, all earmarks requested of the Congressman are posted below.”
The link takes the website users to a document that lists the $48 billion request. Below the link, the website language continues, “It is important to note that this list is not what has been chosen to be funded. Members of Congress who sit on the appropriations subcommittees will make the final judgment on what projects will be funded. Very few of these projects will ultimately be funded, but the Congressman will fight for every one he submits.”
Cleaver actually submitted 16 of those 127 requests to appropriations committees this year that total $17.335 million. The $48 billion proposal was not among them.