Politics

Conservatives Remain Skeptical Of Bringing Back The Earmark

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

The House is set to vote on whether Congress should bring back the earmark Wednesday — but not all Republicans are sold on the idea.

Reps. John Culberson of Texas, Mike Rogers of Alabama and Thomas Rooney of Florida introduced the amendment they feel brings back the power of the purse while preventing abuse of the tool.

Skeptics of earmarks, which provide federal funding for state and local projects, argue it leads to corruption since they were often used to sweeten legislative deals in the past.

They were banned in 2011 after voters voiced outrage over abuse of pork and barrel spending, accusing lawmakers of using tax dollars for their pet projects.

“I think it would be a bad idea,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We need to have Congress to have greater control over appropriations, but to bring back earmarks flies in the face of what the American people told us last week.”

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan agreed, saying getting rid of them was a step in the right direction for fiscal responsibility in the government.

“The takeaway from last week’s election is that the American people are tired of business as usual in Washington,” he said in a statement. “That means come January, no earmarks or other special deals for special interests, period.”

House Committee on Small Business Chairman and RSC member Steve Chabot, who is still deciding on how he will vote, said he traditionally has not been a fan of earmarks in the past, but something needs to be done to bring back the balance in power.

“I don’t like the term earmark and I wouldn’t be for bringing earmarks back per say, however, I also don’t like turning over our responsibilities to the executive branch, which we have apparently been doing for some years now, so I think we need to look at this logically and constitutionally and come to some decision on how we handle it,” he told TheDCNF.

A number of House Republicans said while they don’t have a plan in place, they are committed to finding a solution to the problem.

“We’re going to have to come up with some sort of a methodology to have congressionally directed appropriations, but to make sure there is absolute transparency and no way that they can be used to trade benefits or favors or anything like that — we’re not there yet,” Flores said.

The amendment would require the earmark to be initiated in committee and the member sponsoring it would need to be identified.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake told reporters Wednesday he doesn’t believe senators will agree to overturn the ban, adding the upper chamber will likely grapple with the issue in January.

“I hope not. To try and bring back, what more than any other thing, cost us the majority in 2006 — people forget fast how abused that system was,” he said. “Some 16,000 earmarks ran across appropriations bills in 2006, put some of our colleagues in jail, pay-to-play rampant — to return to that when we are trying to drain the swamp, you don’t drain the swamp by feeding pork to the alligators.”

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