Civic Newsfeed Powered by Countable
Democrats plan to revive 'earmarks' for spending bills - do you support the move?
Do you support or oppose the use of earmarks by Congress?
By Eric Revell, Countable News
What's the story?
- Democrats brought earmarks back in the 117th Congress, ending a decade-long prohibition on congressionally directed spending.
- There are a number of guardrails to keep earmarks under control, including a per-member cap of 10 earmark requests per fiscal year and a cap limiting earmark spending to 1% of total discretionary spending.
What are earmarks?
- Earmarks are provisions in spending bills that are targeted to a specific state, locality, congressional district, or entity to allocate funding in a way that doesn’t rely on a legal or administrative formula or a competitive award process.
- They’re sometimes referred to as “pork barrel legislation” because earmarks allow lawmakers to pour cash into each others’ pet projects to improve their reputations back home in exchange for their support for a broader spending bill.
- At their peak in the mid-2000s, Congress used earmarks frequently, attaching 13,997 of them to legislation in 2005 which were valued at $67 billion according to a 2006 Congressional Research Service report.
Why were earmarks banned?
- Because, frankly, things had gotten out of hand and millions of taxpayer dollars were being funneled to projects with little national significance.
- Perhaps the most infamous earmark is the "Bridge to Nowhere" ― a $398 million project to connect an Alaskan island with a population of 50 people and its airport to the mainland. Members of the state’s delegation fought hard for the bridge, led by Congress’s longest-serving active member, Rep. Don Young (R-AK). Lawmakers ultimately dropped the earmark amid public outcry, which led to the project’s cancellation (an improved ferry now services the community).
- Earmarks also proved an ethical temptation too great for some lawmakers. Former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) was sentenced to eight years in prison after accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes related to earmarks he attached to military spending legislation that passed through the committees he sat on.
- Starting in 2011, the House and Senate effectively banned earmarks through the committee procedures and party rules that were enforced by leadership ― although it should be noted that there is no formal prohibition on earmarks in either chamber’s rules.
- Earmark advocates say that their restoration would take funding authority away from unelected bureaucrats and give some of it back to Congress, thereby restoring the legislative branch’s constitutional responsibility for budgeting.
- Proponents have also argued that bringing back earmarks could help lawmakers gain the support needed to pass all twelve, individual federal funding bills (which they haven’t been able to do in years) rather than relying on last-minute, massive omnibus spending packages that no one has time to read or continuing resolutions that kick the can down the road.
Germany balks at Biden admin's push for waiver of patent protections for COVID vaccinesBy Eric Revell and Lorelei Yang, Countable News UPDATE 5/6/21 German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her opposition to the
Facebook Oversight Board upholds ban on Donald TrumpBy Josh Herman, Countable News What's the story? Facebook's Oversight Board has ruled that the platform was justified in its
Young West Virginians offered $100 incentive to get COVID-19 vaccine - should other states follow suit?By Eric Revell, Countable News What’s the story? West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) recently announced a plan to offer a $100