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Agency that tracked pork spending mysteriously discontinued

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Earmark monitor's exit baffles, troubles GOP

The federal agency that tracked pork-barrel spending during the 12 years of the Republican congressional majority has discontinued the practice since Democrats took power, riling lawmakers suspicious of the timing and concerned about the pace of fat being added to bills.

"To me, something doesn't smell right," said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican. "I just hope no one is pressuring" the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

While not blaming the Democratic leadership, Mr. DeMint added: "I guess if you're looking for a motive, you'd have to look in that direction."

CRS, a nonpartisan agency of the Library of Congress created to conduct research for members of Congress on legislative issues, changed its policy in February -- a month after Democrats took control of the Congress and vowed to curb the number of special-interest projects inserted into spending bills or even reports that don't require a vote.

CRS Director Daniel P. Mulhollan developed the policy after consulting with "internal CRS appropriations experts" and deciding the service was redundant with what other agencies do, CRS spokeswoman Janine D'Addario said.

"His decision was strictly an internal decision," said Miss D'Addario, whose agency began providing Congress members with information on earmarks in 1994, when Mr. Mulhollan took over as director.

CRS said the Office of Management and Budget recently has been taking on a greater role in monitoring earmarks. And with both chambers of Congress this year establishing new guidelines and clearer definitions of earmarks, the agency said its role as a scorekeeper of earmarks is obsolete.

Several lawmakers, particularly those who had come to rely on the agency to identify the dollar value of earmarks in appropriations and other laws, were caught off guard by the change.

"It's troubling -- I can't think of any justification for that," said Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican. "They've done good research in the past. ... That's what they're here for -- the benefit of the members" of Congress.

Democratic leaders with the House and Senate appropriations committees say they did not persuade Mr. Mulhollan to drop his agency's earmark practice.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, wasn't aware of the research service's change in policy until this week, spokesman Tom Gavin said.

"Senator Byrd is a strong supporter of CRS, and he in no way, shape or form tried to get them to change policy," Mr. Gavin said.

Mash here please

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"To me, something doesn't smell right,"

That would be the smell of all those fiscally conservative democrats. Probably those Blue Dog Democrats who were going to change the face of the DNC.

"I just hope no one is pressuring" the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Why would anyone think that?

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Typical congresional spit! The Dems want to create this "world order" at the countries expense. Socialism here we come.

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