Earmarks look to be making a comeback

Earmarks look to be making a comeback

House Democrats are hinting that they may bring back earmarks when they take back control of the lower chamber next year.

Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyHouse passes disaster relief bill to fund government through Feb. 8 On The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Latest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House MORE (D-N.Y.), the incoming chairwoman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, wrote her Democratic colleagues and hinted that earmarks — or “congressionally directed spending” — would be making a comeback next year with Democrats in power.

The Democratic Caucus should “review procedures and work with the Senate to determine the most effective way to carry out our constitutional responsibilities through congressionally-directed spending,” Lowey wrote in her letter seeking the Appropriations gavel.

ADVERTISEMENT

Republicans banned earmarks after they took back the majority in 2010, but some are now rallying to overturn the eight-year ban on a practice critics have derided as “pork-barrel spending.”

Rep. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersEarmarks look to be making a comeback Divided Congress to clash over Space Force, nuclear arsenal CIA's ‘surveillance state’ is operating against us all MORE (R-Ala.) and other GOP earmark defenders are planning to introduce an amendment Tuesday evening to lift the GOP conference-wide rule that prohibits Republican lawmakers from directing spending for pet projects in their congressional districts, GOP sources told The Hill.

House Republicans are slated to vote on proposed rules changes in a closed-door meeting on Thursday.

“Congressman Rogers has always been a vocal supporter of our Article One constitutional authorities and that doesn't change just because we are in the minority,” said Rogers spokeswoman Shea Miller.

Earlier this year, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE suggested that Democrats and Republicans should reinstate earmarks to make it easier to pass legislation. And some GOP senators, including Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKaine to force Senate to hold rare Saturday session amid shutdown Senate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Senators look for possible way to end shutdown MORE of Alaska, have said recently they are all for bringing back the practice.

“It depends on whether House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the White House can come to an agreement,” said a House Democratic aide. “If they can, it is very likely to happen, but it’s hard to predict how such talks would go.”

Exactly two years ago, House Republicans, having retained the majority, were on the cusp of resurrecting earmarks during a similar vote on GOP rules changes.

But at the last minute, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism MORE (R-Wis.), an earmarks critic, nixed the vote after some Republicans complained that restoring earmarks would create bad optics for the party so soon after the election of Donald Trump. Trump’s anti-Washington campaign slogan had been: “Drain the Swamp.”

The House Rules Committee held hearings on earmarks, but the issue went nowhere.

Earmarks supporters have argued that lawmakers are more knowledgeable about what projects are needed in their districts rather than leaving those decisions to executive-branch bureaucrats.

“I know first hand when you have to depend on some department up here in Washington, they just don’t know your district. Every district is different. There’s nobody who knows it like the member,” said Rep. Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtGranger to serve as ranking member of House Appropriations Committee Earmarks look to be making a comeback Race for Appropriations ranking member heats up MORE (R-Ala.), who is running to be the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

“If they are done fairly and transparently and they are done in daylight, earmarks can be a very positive thing,” he said.