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Welch closes the door

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and the Democrat leaders of the so-called, self-proclaimed most open Congress in history, have closed the door on any possibility for amendments or debate on a series of appropriations bills. As a result, 45 never before seen earmarks were stealthily placed into various appropriations bills at the expense of important funding for our troops, our veterans and hard working Americans. These secret earmarks that Welch and the Democrats allowed into the bills never saw the light of a Congressional hearing nor were allowed to be debated on the House floor. To make matters worse, the Democrats have renewed efforts to eliminate the only tool available to prevent earmarks like these from being slipped into bills in the dead of the night. Last weeks Roll Call editorial shines light on this dark issue: Despite promises to manage the House on a more open basis than Republicans did during their 12-year rule, Democrats have been every bit as authoritarian prohibiting any floor amendments, for instance, at more than double the rate of the previous Congress. Rather than limit one of the minoritys few rights to affect legislation, we suggest that Democrats expand those rights by allowing Republicans to offer amendments on the floor more open and democratic debate also might produce better policy and reduce partisan rancor. (Roll Call, Nov. 14) Unfortunately for the hard-working taxpayers that Welch represents, this has become an unhealthy pattern. In the last two weeks alone, Welch and the Democrats have continued to support secret Washington earmarks stuffed into already pork-laden legislation. The total cost of their actions is even more disturbing. By refusing to allow debate or amendments to these bills, Welch and the Democrats have burdened American taxpayers with more than half a trillion dollars in increased spending. Welch's Vermont voters deserve a Member of Congress who stands for transparency and accountability when it comes to how their tax dollars are spent. With his continued negligence for openness at the expense of the hardworking people of Vermont, Welch has quickly become the typical tax-and-spend Washington politician. Because Welch and the Democrats continue to break their campaign promises by carrying out these maneuvers to squash any scrutiny of these earmarks, the American taxpayers will never know if these secret projects are nothing more than a boondoggle. Note: The 45 secret earmarks were snuck into the following conference reports: Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Defense Appropriations bills. Jessica Boulanger

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