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Letter


End Taxpayer Funding of Projects Named After Current Members of Congress

April 18, 2008

The Honorable Michael McCaul
United States House of Representatives
131 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative McCaul:

On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in support of your legislation, H.R. 5771, which would prohibit the use of federal funds for any project named after a current Member of Congress. This bill would finally end the disgraceful practice of using the power of Congress to aggrandize sitting lawmakers.

Though certainly not the first example of its kind, this issue rose to prominence recently when Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) earmarked $2 million for the City University of New York to complete the "Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service." Despite several attempts to eliminate the earmark or get the name changed, it was passed into law as a part of last year's omnibus appropriations bill.

Naming a project after a current Member violates House rules; as Rule XXI, Clause 6 notes, "It shall not be in order to consider a bill, joint resolution, amendment, or conference report that provides for the designation or re-designation of a public work in honor of an individual then serving as a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator." Despite that fact, projects are rarely challenged and are easily sustained within Congress's often insular and rarefied atmosphere.

H.R. 5771, however, goes a step further and actually cuts off the use of federal funds to support any such project. This statutory reform would actively and effectively prevent Congress from skirting its own established rules, as it does so frequently.

The Founders of this country would be horrified to see Congress using the public purse to wage personal PR campaigns. For their part, modern-day Americans are sick and tired of Congress feathering its nests -- in Washington and elsewhere -- with taxpayer dollars. NTU supports H.R. 5771 because it will put a stop, once and for all, to these shameful actions. We commend you and look forward to working with you to pass this important piece of legislation.

Sincerely,

Andrew Moylan
Government Affairs Manager