Democrats Prepare to Bring Back Earmarks In Hopes They Will Spark Bipartisanship

The House Appropriations Committee is planning to announce it will allow earmarks for the first time in a decade in hopes that it will spark bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, Axios reports.

House Democrats plan to restore a limited version of earmarks, which allow lawmakers to direct spending for special projects in their districts.

Earmarks were effectively banned in 2011 amid multiple Republican corruption scandals and a Tea Party push to eliminate the spending.

Democrats say earmarks are necessary to increase leverage to pass critical bills like infrastructure.

Some Republicans are already on board with the idea.

“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I believe there is a time and a place for congressionally directed appropriations that are guided by a set of specific parameters," Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole told Axios.

Dems push restrictions:

Democrats plan to institute restrictions to avoid a repeat of past issues.

The new rules are expected to limit earmarks to 10 requests per House member.

Members would also have to provide evidence that their constituents support the spending and certify that they or their relatives personally have no financial stake in the projects.

For-profit institutions would be barred from earmarked funding and there would be a cap on the total amount of earmarked spending.

Conservatives oppose:

The House Freedom Caucus said it will oppose bringing back earmarks.

"I don't see the guardrails and parameters in place with the earmarks right now that would suggest it's okay to use them," Rep. Andy Biggs told Axios. 'They can be used as leverage against anybody who has a problem or disagreement with leadership or anything like that."

Cole argued that "when focused on core infrastructure and community service needs, this tool can vitally help members to ensure their constituencies are not overlooked.”

"I think they've been frankly misdescribed as to what they actually do, and so I think people are more afraid of the electoral consequences than they are of our leadership using them as leverage against our members,” he added.

“My view has been that it’s a constitutional responsibility of the Congress the United States and that members of Congress know their districts better than almost anybody else," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. "Their judgment, as to how we can invest in helping their districts, is best made by the members, and not by others.”


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