Senate GOP votes to permanently ban earmarks

Senate GOP votes to permanently ban earmarks
© Greg Nash
Senate Republicans voted on Thursday to permanently ban the practice of including earmarks — money directed by lawmakers into pet projects — in government funding bills. 
 
GOP senators decided to enact the permanent ban during a closed-door caucus meeting, with aides saying the issue had been under discussion among Republicans for months. 
 
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Congress first banned earmarks in 2011, after Republicans took back the House in 2010. But that moratorium expired in January, with the start of the 116th Congress, meaning lawmakers could have tried to insert earmarks into fiscal 2020 government funding bills. 
 
Fiscal conservatives, who have blasted earmarks as "pork-barrel spending," praised the decision. 
 
 
“Backroom deals, kickbacks, and earmarks feed a culture of constant incumbency and that’s poisonous to healthy self-government," Sasse said in a statement.
 
Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz Hickenlooper, Bennet bring deep ties to 2020 debate stage 2020 Democrat Bennet releases comprehensive government reform plan GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers MORE (R-Texas) added that Republicans took "an important step in restoring fiscal sanity by adopting a permanent earmark ban." 
 
Earmarks skyrocketed into the national spotlight during the George W. Bush administration when both then-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and then-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) went to jail for earmark-related bribes.
  
The decision for Senate Republicans to amend their caucus rules to include a permanent earmarks ban comes after House Republicans flirted with lifting the earmarks ban late last year, before ultimately backing down. 
 
President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE at the time encouraged the return to earmarks.
 
“I hear so much about earmarks," he said, "... and how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks.”