Democratic push to revive earmarks divides Republicans Republicans Covid Tom Cole Donald Trump Patrick Leahy

Democratic push to revive earmarks divides Republicans Republicans Covid Tom Cole Donald Trump Patrick Leahy


Democratic push to revive earmarks divides Republicans Republicans Covid Tom Cole Donald Trump Patrick Leahy

Democratic push to revive earmarks divides Republicans Republicans Covid Tom Cole Donald Trump Patrick Leahy

Can lawmakers bring home the bacon without it being pork?

It’s a question that’s vexing Republicans as they consider whether to join a Democratic push to revive earmarks, the much-maligned practice where lawmakers direct federal spending to a specific project or institution back home. Examples include a new bridge, community library or university research program.

Earmarking was linked to corruption in the 2000s, leading to an outcry and their banishment in both the House and Senate But many in Congress say the ban has gone too far, ceding the “power of the purse” to party leaders and the executive branch and giving lawmakers less incentive to work with members of the other party on major legislation.

Democratic appropriators in the House see a solution and are proposing a revamped process allowing lawmakers to submit public requests for “community project funding” in federal spending bills. To guard against graft, the process includes safeguards to prevent conflicts of interest.

Whether earmarking becomes bipartisan could have enormous implications not only for the allocation of spending across the country, but for President Joe Biden who is gearing up for a massive infrastructure push that he hopes will attract significant Republican support. With earmarking in place, bipartisanship could prove easier to achieve, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle could have reason to support bills they would otherwise oppose.

“This is a matter of allowing members to serve their own constituents,” said Rep. Tom Cole R-Okla. “Somebody is going to be making these decisions — and I don’t want to bash federal bureaucrats — but somebody who has never been to my district probably doesn’t know the needs as well as I do.”


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