In many ways, the Republicans' voluntary two-year earmark ban is limited in scope. But it's already undermining Congress's spending 'cardinals' and changing how lobbyists lobby Capitol Hill.
Senate Republicans decide to swear off earmarks. Now, they will try to persuade the Democrats to do the same. But many Democrats – and some Republicans, too – are wary.
Rep. Charlie Wilson, the east Texas Democrat who died this week, directed millions of dollars in covert funding to help mujahedeen fighters oust Soviet troops from Afghanistan in the 1980s. But efforts at government transparency in budgeting would make that more difficult today.
The attempt to remove Charles Rangel from his seat as chairman of an influential House committee keeps allegations of bribery in the public eye.