‘Currency Of Corruption’: House Republicans Overwhelmingly Support Congressional Pork

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The House Republican Conference voted Wednesday to continue including earmarks in spending bills, as the Tea Party era recedes further into the GOP’s rear-view mirror.

California Rep. Tom McClintock proposed reinstating the earmark ban at a conference meeting, but the vote failed 52-158, Roll Call reported. Republicans first banned earmarks in 2011, but brought the practice back in 2021. The vote could spell trouble for Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s efforts to become Speaker of the House, since some members of the Freedom Caucus were watching the vote closely while considering whether to support the Californian.

“That we don’t recognize that there is a problem with the earmark process in Washington, D.C. is a sad testimonial,” Freedom Caucus chairman Scott Perry, who described the vote as an “important marker” for McCarthy skeptics, told reporters.

“America knows that this process is broken here, that it is rife with their money, their hard-earned money being spent on things that have absolutely no reason to be in the federal purview,” he added. (RELATED: Kevin McCarthy Wins GOP Nomination For Speaker Of The House, Will Need More Support Ahead Of January)

All 220 Democrats and 108 House Republicans requested earmarks for fiscal year 2022, according to the House Appropriations Committee. Those projects totaled $18.9 billion in spending, according to an analysis from Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). Republican Florida Rep. Brian Mast secured $377,499,000 in earmarks for FY2022, the most of any House member, CAGW found.

“In a shameful display of swamp politics, an embarrassingly large majority of the House Republican Conference voted against my friend Rep. Tom McClintock’s amendment to ban earmarks next Congress. Earmarks are the currency of corruption in Washington, D.C. They lead to backroom deals that incentivize Members to vote for massive spending blowouts, fund woke and wasteful projects like LGBT Centers and Diversity and Inclusion programs, and allow Members to steer taxpayer dollars to pet projects for their own personal gain. Congress was right to ban them in 2011 and House Republicans were dead wrong to revive them last year,” Texas Rep. Chip Roy, a member of the Freedom Caucus, told the Daily Caller.

“I will continue to fight for the American taxpayer and oppose earmarks until they are dead and buried for good,” he added. (RELATED: The Pigs Are Back At The Trough—Senate Republicans Planning Earmarks Despite Ban)

The House banned earmarks following a series of spending boondoggles, most notoriously Alaska’s $452 million “Bridge to Nowhere” and the $50 million Coralville Rain Forest. Neither project was completed. After Congress resurrected the practice, Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez requested $3.4 million in earmarks for two New York City hospitals, while Democratic Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson asked for $209,000 for an affordable housing complex for studio artists.

“We need to restore fiscal sanity, and this is a substantial step in the wrong direction. These swampy practices breed corruption and misgovernment. I’ll fight them wherever they appear, regardless of which party is pushing them,” North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop added.