Four lawmakers offer bill to permanently ban earmarks

Four lawmakers offer bill to permanently ban earmarks
© Greg Nash

Two Republican and two Democratic lawmakers are offering legislation to permanently ban the use of earmarks, pushing back on others in Congress who would like to see a return of the direct spending items.

“This bill is about sending a clear message: that the days of pork-barrel spending ended in 2011,” the four lawmakers said in a statement.

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Reps. Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddHouse Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 Republican Ted Budd holds off challenger to win reelection in North Carolina Election Day: An hour-by-hour viewer’s guide MORE (R-N.C.), Jim CooperJames (Jim) Hayes Shofner CooperWhy Democrats are pushing for a new nuclear policy The 15 Democrats who voted against Pelosi House elects Pelosi to second Speakership MORE (D-Tenn.), Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceDem lawmakers to open probe into ‘complex web of relationships’ between NRA, Russia McCarthy, allies retaliate against Freedom Caucus leader How Pelosi is punishing some critics while rewarding others MORE (D-N.Y.) and Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanSouth Carolina New Members 2019 House conservatives want ethics probe into Dems' handling of Kavanaugh allegations Milwaukee County GOP mocks Kavanaugh accusation, says Ginsburg claimed Lincoln 'grabbed my ass' MORE (R-S.C.) offered the legislation, which would forbid Congress from passing a bill that included an earmark.

“Earmarks encourage the worst behavior because they tempt people in Congress to steal taxpayer money to benefit big contributors or grease their own reelection,” Budd said. 

Budd is the only one of the four lawmakers in a competitive race in this year’s midterm elections. The Cook Political Report rates his district as leaning Republican.

Reps. John Culberson (R-Texas), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) are among the lawmakers who have called on Congress to revisit the issue of earmarks, which were prohibited under House rules when former Rep. John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCrowley, Shuster moving to K Street On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Bill Clinton jokes no one would skip Dingell's funeral: 'Only time' we could get the last word MORE (R-Ohio) was Speaker.

They argue that bringing back earmarks could help the legislative process, make it easier to pass bills and basically make Congress function better. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE earlier this year said Republicans might want to think about bringing earmarks back.

Opponents argue earmarks will lead to more wasteful spending on pet projects.

Congress last week approved a $1.3 trillion omnibus that was harshly criticized by fiscal hawks. It did not include earmarks.