This is an outrage:
The Senate moved yesterday toward asking the Justice Department for a criminal investigation of a $10 million legislative earmark whose provisions were mysteriously altered after Congress gave final approval to a huge 2005 highway funding bill. . .
Top Senate Democrats and Republicans have endorsed taking action in connection with the earmark that Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) . . . inserted into the legislation. “It’s very possible people ought to go to jail,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). . .
Young’s staff acknowledged yesterday that aides “corrected” the earmark just before it went to the White House for President Bush’s signature, specifying that the money would go to a proposed highway interchange project on Interstate 75 near Naples, Fla.
This compromises the basic integrity of the legislative process. There also should have been a criminal investigation last August, when the House Democratic leadership falsified the result of a floor vote in the US House of Representatives:
Democrats appeared to have won the vote, but with the voting time apparently having expired, GOP leaders persuaded three Latino Republicans who had voted with the Democrats to change their votes. At the same time, Democrats say, five Democratic lawmakers who had voted with Republicans were scrambling to change their votes as well. With two of the GOP votes changed, Democrats gaveled the vote shut, 214 to 214, and declared that they had won. But the public tally showed that the Republicans had won, 215 to 213, just as the vote was declared for the Democrats. The official final tally was 216 to 212 in the Democrats’ favor.
But House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said there were no Democrats seeking to change their votes at the time. Moreover, he charged, [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer had told a protesting parliamentarian, “We control, not the parliamentarians.” And, he said, electronic records on the vote disappeared from the House’s voting system and on the House clerk’s Web site.
UPDATE: On futher reflection, didn’t Congress keep the earmarks out of the legislation this year, in order to circumvent the House’s new earmark rules? If Congress never voted on the earmark in question, that would seem to make its alteration a lot less serious. (I’ve altered the title of this post accordingly.)