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WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke at a press conference this evening with House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Let no one be mistaken: after an earmark explosion under Republican leadership, Democrats have led the way in bringing transparency and accountability to earmarks.
"The complaints expressed by Republican Members this week ring hollow. The number of earmarks exploded under Republicans.
"For example, the Labor-Health-Education bill: in 1994 there were virtually no House earmarks. Two years ago, there were 3,031 totaling $1.2 billion.
"The Housing and Urban Development bill: in FY95, the last year Democrats were in charge, there were 265 HUD earmarks known as Economic Development Initiatives. In Fiscal Year 2006 there were 1,176 such earmarks.
"The Highway Authorization bill: in the first 20 bills that were enacted into law (from 1956 to 1995) there were 739 earmarks. The 2005 Highway bill provided a record $24 billion for more than 5,000 earmarks.
"Remember, the rules package adopted by Democrats on the very first day of this 110th Congress provided for unprecedented transparency in
"In fact, Mr. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a crusader against earmarks, praised Democrats, saying: 'I want to compliment the Democrats for earmark reform that is stronger than what the Republicans did. Democrats in this way had more guts than we did to tackle earmark reform in a meaningful way.'
"Both parties have agreed that earmarks will be in the remaining bills.
"Democrats exercised patience this week, and bent over backwards to maintain a bipartisan process. Something the Republicans did not do when they were in the majority.
"In the minority, Democrats cooperated with Republicans to move the appropriations bills forward every year for twelve years. Republicans have finally agreed to do the same.
"We are committed to doing the people's business in a fiscally responsible manner, and making critical investments in homeland security, veterans, energy independence and other areas.
- Provide first responders with training and equipment,
"Tomorrow we will complete a bill that will finally fulfill the promises that America has made to our veterans - with the largest increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs in its history so that we can provide adequate health care for our vets.
"Over the past few days, we have heard a lot of talk - but little substance. Talk is something that Americans have had enough of.
"Democrats have shown and will continue to show in deed, not just word, that we are serious about accountability and transparency, we serious about moving forward with the people's business, and we are serious about moving this country in a new direction."