A Congressional committee has come full circle on earmarks, funding items that members insert into spending bills to benefit projects in their districts.
The earmarkers' identities used to be secret -- now they are on display on the Web for all to see. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has launched a database of all earmarks to bills originating in that committee in the current and previous sessions of Congress.
Earmarks, denounced by some as pork, especially since the now infamous (and canceled) "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska, typically make up a small percentage of funding measures. Members on both sides of the aisle defend them, saying they are mostly worthwhile projects that wouldn't otherwise get funded. They got a black eye when Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, put a $223 million earmark into a spending bill for a bridge from Ketchikan to an island with a population of 50.
By the way, the announcement of the new database refers to them as "member-designated projects" rather than "earmarks," a word that has taken on scandalous overtones since the Alaska debacle.