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 LoweyOvernight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' Pentagon transferring .8 billion to border wall Democrats should firmly commit to not bring back earmarks 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.

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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 RogersDOJ attorney looking into whether CIA withheld info during start of Russia probe: NYT CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars 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 TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE suggested that Democrats and Republicans should reinstate earmarks to make it easier to pass legislation. And some GOP senators, including Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocrats worried about Trump's growing strength The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' 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 RyanOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Paul Ryan says Biden likely won't get Democratic nomination Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party 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 AderholtBottom Line Lobbying World House advances B agriculture bill 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.