This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," March 26, 2007, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Time now for "Big Politics." Democrats said they were going to make lots of changes if they won control of Congress. Well here's one big change: They finally figured out a way to improve on the public practice of earmarking.
Democrats have shut down the agency that actually identifies who and what last-minute information is being slipped into a bill. So now that they have the power, is this all part of a big cover-up? What are the Democrats trying to hide? With me now is Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.
So Tom, you know, these earmarks, pork, led to corruption charges against Republicans. A lot of people think that that's part of the reason why the Democrats were swept into office. They promised they weren't going to do it any more, but now they are. Plus, they went one more step. Tell me what it was?
SEN. TOM COBURN, R-OKLA.: Well the CRS, which is a branch of the Library of Congress, has refused to give the senators a list of the earmarks in this last year's appropriations bill. And they don't have a good reason for not doing that, other than the fact that there obviously has been some implied pressure if they continue to do so. And so that's something we depend on and now we don't have that as a source.
GIBSON: So you get your information from an arm of Congress?
COBURN: The Library of Congress. It's called the Congressional Research Service.
GIBSON: The Congressional Research Service now is not giving you any information. My question is: This pork hypocrisy, the Dems now take their turn with pork, they load up bills with it, but now they've figured out a way to hide it so nobody knows it's happened?
COBURN: Well it's going to be hidden this year only, but next year and the year after it, in 2008, September of 2008 when the Transparency and Accountability Act comes, it will all be published. It just won't be published in a timely manner so we can know about it.
Right now, John, we have to search through all of these bills, like the bill that's going on the floor tomorrow to find all of the hidden pork that's in it that is directed to one specific area that shouldn't be and is covered up with slight of hand and dark of night maneuvering by the appropriators.
GIBSON: The majority party gets to slip earmarks in, right? It was the Republicans' turn when they controlled. Now it's the Democrats doing it. Have I got that right?
COBURN: Ultimately, they have the final say on what goes in bills and what does not go in bills because they have the votes on the committees. The interesting point that this last markup for the supplemental wasn't even held in public. You couldn't even get into the markup to find out what was going on.
GIBSON: Didn't Nancy Pelosi promise that this was going to end?
COBURN: Yes, and so did Robert Burke.
GIBSON: So what happens to those promises?
COBURN: Well my job is to make sure the American public knows about it and knows how dangerous earmarks for us in terms of — right now we have a government we can't afford and one of the biggest reasons for that is because of earmarks.
GIBSON: Some of these projects we know about are foreign projects, you know, spinach research and other sorts of things. Are you saying that those are things that the Republicans wouldn't have put through, that they're only Democrat pork?
COBURN: Well no, I would agree with you that there is pork on both sides of the aisle. But the problem is — the battle that's shaping up is can we can afford to do things that aren't absolutely necessary now when we're borrowing the money from our grandchildren.
GIBSON: Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, thanks very much. Appreciate you coming on.
COBURN: John, good to be with you.
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