Will House Republicans Revive Earmarks?

Earmark via Flicker Creative Commons

Rob Bluey reports that a trio of House Republican are trying to resuscitate earmarks. Reps. John Culberson of Texas, Mike Rogers of Alabama, and Tom Rooney of Florida are listed as sponsors of an amendment, which would bring back legislative earmarks for some government agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Bureau of Reclamation. The amendment would also allow lawmakers to provide earmarks for state and local governments, except for recreational facilities, museums, or parks.


If the amendment is adopted by a secret-ballot vote Wednesday, lawmakers would be able to request earmarks once again as long as the sponsoring member is identified, the earmarks initiate in committee, and they don’t increase spending. According to Bluey, this is just the first step to completely ending the earmark ban by slowly peeling it away.

Bluey reminds us that earmarks became synonymous with government waste and pork-barrel spending during  the early 2000’s:

Prior to their ban in 2010, lawmakers used earmarks to direct government agencies how to spend money. The practice led to some noteworthy abuses such as the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska. Earmarks even played a role in former GOP Rep. Duke Cunningham’s bribery case. Cunningham, who spent time in prison, used earmarks in exchange for lobbyists’ gifts.

[. . .]

A group of conservative bloggers launched an effort called Porkbusters to expose the abuse and call for reform. By the time Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006, several Republican lawmakers were calling for earmarking to end. They included then-Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina. (DeMint is currently president of The Heritage Foundation.)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., made it a staple of his 2008 presidential campaign, and in 2010, then-GOP Leader John Boehner, a longtime earmark opponent, oversaw its adoption in the House. Senate Republicans, although not in the majority at the time, adopted a voluntary ban in 2010 as well.


A number of RedState writers participated in the Porkbuster movement to end earmarks.

It’s disappointing to see Republican Congress critters seeking to revive this discredited practice. Rogers has been trying to bring back earmarks since 2012. It’s time to persuade him and his cosponsors to stop. Did they learn nothing from the presidential campaign in which Hillary Clinton was excoriated for pay to play schemes of the Clinton Inc., and President-elect Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp?


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