Senator Robert P. Casey on Earmarks

Senator Casey discusses the skyrocketing cost of gas in Philadelphia. (Source of photo:

A long time ago, while congress was messing around with the first bailout package for Wall Street, I wrote my Senator, asking him for his stance on earmarks and if he was proposing earmarks into legislation. When I emailed him, I told him where I lived and that I hoped he would not propose earmarks in the future.

Here is is response (I took liberty to remove any self-identifying information):

Response from Senator Casey‏
From: Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (
Sent: Wed 1/14/09 6:11 PM

Dear Mr. :

Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your concerns about federal spending for congressionally-directed projects, otherwise known as earmarks. I appreciate hearing from all Pennsylvanians about the issues that matter most to them.

Members of Congress have traditionally sought funding in annual spending bills for specific projects designed to spur economic development, improve infrastructure, foster innovation and strengthen vital social services. In many cases, this process provides the only means by which communities can obtain significant federal support for important projects.

Since joining the Senate, I have worked to secure such funding for initiatives across Pennsylvania. In fiscal year 2008, for example, some of the projects I sponsored provided funding to help construct a cancer care center in Crawford County, to support a pre-kindergarten program in Harrisburg, and to improve street lighting in Reading. I am proud to support targeted initiatives designed to promote economic growth and improve the quality of life in Pennsylvania. Each project submitted to my office is subjected to considerable scrutiny, and I have made it a point to provide the public with timely information on the projects I have sponsored in federal spending bills. If you would like to access information on the projects I have supported, I invite you to visit my website at the address below.

While earmarks represent a small portion of the annual federal budget (about one half of one percent of all spending in fiscal year 2008), the need for transparency and accountability is essential to ensuring the public’s confidence in this process. During the 110th Congress, I was proud to join my colleagues in passing legislation that improves the public’s ability to monitor the congressional earmarking process. The bill, S. 1, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, became law on September 14, 2007, and includes some meaningful earmark reforms. First, this legislation requires that each project included in a spending bill lists the names of the Members of Congress who requested it. No longer will a project receive funding without the public knowing exactly who advocated for it. Second, S. 1 greatly inhibits the ability of lawmakers to include earmarks in the final stage of a bill’s consideration in Congress. This practice, known as earmark “air-dropping,” previously permitted lawmakers to insert last minute projects into a bill. On too many occasions, it allowed some Members to avoid subjecting projects to the necessary scrutiny and vetting. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this bill requires Members of Congress to certify in writing that neither they nor their immediate family members have any personal financial interest in any of the projects for which they have submitted a request.

Although S. 1 represents a major step forward in opening this process to further scrutiny, there is still more work to be done. Congress can, and should, do more to ensure that federal funds are spent in a fiscally-responsible and transparent manner. As Congress continues to consider reforms to this process, please be assured that I will keep your views about this issue in mind. My priority will be to advocate for proposals that not only benefit Pennsylvania but also stand up to the scrutiny that all taxpayer-funded projects deserve.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

As I mentioned, if you have access to the Internet, I encourage you to visit my web site, I invite you to use this online office as a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Bob Casey
United States Senator

Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 09:58  Leave a Comment  
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