New Update: Exposing Earmarks

The secret is out!

After the blogging community helped produce denials from 98 senators, spokespersons for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) finally admitted that they had placed anonymous holds preventing the Coburn-Obama-Carper-McCain earmark reform bill from reaching the floor.

So why, given its broad bipartisan support, would Stevens and Byrd want to hold up this piece of legislation? According to his spokesperson, Stevens merely wanted the bill delayed until he was convinced that it would not create another unnecessary layer of government bureaucracy. There have also been indications by some that Stevens may be acting in retaliation. Last year, Coburn held up a Stevens bill concerning ocean research, arguing that it was too expensive. In addition, Coburn was a vocal opponent of the $223 million appropriation that Stevens advocated for a bridge connecting two sparsely-populated Alaskan islands (commonly known as the "Bridge to nowhere").

A spokesperson for Byrd released a statement saying the senator, "wanted time to read the legislation, understand its implications, and see whether the proposal could be improved." In the statement, it was announced that Byrd had released his hold. Stevens, however, has yet to lift his, or give any indication of when or if he will. Time is running out for the Senate to vote on the measure this year, as the chamber plans to adjourn in early October so it’s members can campaign for reelection full-time.