POLITICAL BLOG: Titus discloses all earmark requests

WASHINGTON — In a sign the times may be changing on Capitol Hill, Rep. Dina Titus today became the first Nevada lawmaker to disclose ahead of time what local projects she is trying to earmark into spending bills this year.

Used to be, lawmakers did not disclose all their earmark requests to the Appropriations Committee, only the ones that are granted. That way, they could take credit for the projects they got without having to reveal the projects they did not get.

But new ethics rules this year by the House Appropriations Committee require lawmakers to post information on their Web sites detailing their requests at the time they are sent in. Further, the disclosure "must include the purpose of the earmark and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds."

The deadline for submitting earmark requests falls over the weekend. Titus, a Democrat, just posted to her Web site what she said was her entire wish list, "in order to increase transparency and openness in the funding process."

Titus further said she is only requesting earmarks for public institutions and nonprofits in Southern Nevada, no private companies.

The Titus list tops out at 40 projects totalling close to $100 million. Her big ticket is for the Las Vegas Readiness Center to be awarded $9.1 million for the 92nd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team.

Reps for Nevada’s other two House members, Democrat Shelley Berkley and Republican Dean Heller, couldn’t be reached on Friday night. There were no earmark lists evident on their Web sites.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will be implementing the same rules, according to a January announcement by committee chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii. It is not clear what the Senate deadline is for submitting earmark requests.

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