House Republicans Endorse Bringing Back Earmarks

March 17, 2021 by Dan McCue
The U.S. Capitol, Aug. 5, 2020. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – House Republicans passed a resolution during their weekly conference meeting on Wednesday in support of restoring earmarks.

The 102-84 vote comes as Democrats continue to prepare to revive the practice.

Earmarks – funding for specific projects usually inserted into broad spending bills – were eliminated in 2011 by Republicans who had just recaptured the House riding a wave of Tea Party support from voters insisting the federal government tighten its purse strings.

The move came after several incidents in which earmarks became the focal point of corruption probes involving several lobbyists, lawmakers and congressional aides.

The House Republican Conference rules change was authored by Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, and has a number of provisions in common with the earmark restoration plan House Democrats announced last month.

Among other things, the Democrats’ plan will cap the total amount of money that can be spent on earmarks to 1% of total discretionary spending.

In addition, members will be capped at submitting 10 earmark requests per fiscal year, though members aren’t guaranteed to get those earmarks included in the annual government funding bills.

To be considered, members must provide evidence their communities support the earmarks they submit. And any member submitting a request must post it online at the same time they submit their proposal to the Appropriations Committee.

Under the proposed rule, for-profit entities will not be eligible for earmarks and the Government Accountability Office will audit the process by looking at an as-yet unspecified sample of enacted earmarks and submitting a report to Congress.

Finally, the Democrats plan to create a “one-stop” online portal for all House members’ earmark requests.

Under the resolution adopted behind closed doors Wednesday morning, GOP members must also publicly disclose their earmark requests when submitted and affirm that neither the lawmaker nor immediate family members have a financial interest in such projects.

The Republicans also voted to have members explain in writing why the earmark they request is an appropriate use of taxpayer funds.

The conference rules amendment also says that committee and party leaders “shall not give consideration to a member’s seniority, committee assignments, or position in the elected leadership when facilitating a request.”

But once again, Wednesday’s vote revealed cracks in Republican unity in the House

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, immediately encouraged others to sign a letter he is circulating vowing to resist the move.

It says simply: “We, the undersigned, pledge that we will not request earmarks, or the preferred euphemism of the day, ‘Community Project Funding.’”

“The pledge letter will remain open for any member of Congress who wishes to join,” Roy said via Twitter.

Yet another conservative Republican, Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, complained, “it is irresponsible for us to reintroduce earmarks before restoring regular order to the appropriations process.”

“America ran a $3.1 trillion budget deficit in FY20. Reestablishing earmarks right now will only increase that number,” he said.

Congress

Hoyer Calls for 'Modernizing' House Approach to Staff Pay, Benefits
Congress
Hoyer Calls for 'Modernizing' House Approach to Staff Pay, Benefits
April 16, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told a Select Committee on Thursday that it's high time Congress was brought into alignment with the best practices of the private sector when it comes to employee recruitment and retention. Appearing before the House Select Committee on the... Read More

35 States at Extreme Risk of Partisan Gerrymandering
In The States
35 States at Extreme Risk of Partisan Gerrymandering
April 16, 2021
by TWN Staff

Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs organization. The Gerrymandering Threat Index rates all 50 states, and its authors argue their findings underscore the urgent need to pass the redistricting reforms within the... Read More

Biden Gets Mixed Response to Affordable Housing Stimulus Plan
Congress
Biden Gets Mixed Response to Affordable Housing Stimulus Plan
April 15, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A Biden administration plan to increase affordable housing drew sharp warnings from Republicans about adding to the U.S. budget deficit during a congressional hearing Wednesday. Meanwhile, Democrats said the $213 billion plan for affordable housing more equitably distributes wealth. They largely disagreed it would... Read More

DC Statehood to Go Before Full House Next Week
Congress
DC Statehood to Go Before Full House Next Week
April 15, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - A bill that would make the District of Columbia the 51st state made it out of the House Oversight and Reforms Committee on Wednesday, and will come up for a vote in the full House next week. Last June, the House passed legislation that... Read More

Rep. Kevin Brady Won't Seek Reelection
Congress
Rep. Kevin Brady Won't Seek Reelection
April 14, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the top Republican on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, announced Wednesday that he will not seek reelection next year after serving since 1997. "This term, my 13th, will be the last," Brady said during remarks before the Woodlands... Read More

Biden Wants Infrastructure Deal, But GOP Doubts Persist
Congress
Biden Wants Infrastructure Deal, But GOP Doubts Persist

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden wants Congress to know he's sincere about cutting a deal on infrastructure, but Republican lawmakers have deep-seated doubts about the scope of his proposed package, its tax hikes and Biden's premise that this is an inflection point for the U.S.... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top