Despite opposition from members of their conservative wing, Republicans in the legislature voted on Wednesday to maintain earmarks in spending legislation.
The conference voted 52-158 against Rep. Tom McClintock of California’s motion to repeal the rule allowing members to earmark spending legislation if they satisfy particular transparency thresholds, just weeks before the House GOP is expected to assume control of the lower chamber.
Republicans passed a rules package two weeks prior to the vote that excluded Mr. McClintock’s idea. However, following conversations, GOP legislators determined that they would revisit the regulation and examine it once again after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The new Republican majority needs to make a bold, clear, and believable message that business as usual in Washington is finished, according to a Mr. McClintock’s op-ed. Is there anything it can do to make a stronger statement than to renounce the dishonest and wasteful practice of legislative earmarking?
Conservative activists urged GOP senators to back Mr. McClintock’s rule proposal as a result of the rule change discussion.
In a letter to House GOP lawmakers on Tuesday, conservative groups including Club for Growth, Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks, National Taxpayers Union, and others stated that earmarks were among the most dishonest, unfair, and wasteful practices in the history of Congress.
Your first chance to show taxpayers that the election of a Republican majority in the House will be accompanied by a serious attempt to restore and preserve budgetary responsibility is by supporting Rep. McClintock’s amendment.
The practice of earmarking, a provision added to a discretionary spending appropriations bill that bypasses the competitive process for allocating funds and directs funds to a specific recipient or recipients, was outlawed for roughly 10 years until Democrats reinstated it in 2021 with some transparency restrictions. Commonly referred to as “pork-barrel” spending, it has involved abuses including funneling funds to initiatives whose founders support the reelection campaign of the sponsoring lawmaker.
Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, brought back earmarks with the transparency requirements and a cap at 1% of yearly discretionary spending.
Republican members of Congress who oversee appropriations stated that earmarks were essential for lawmakers to be able to employ in spending bills because their usage could easily be transferred in a more covert manner to the executive branch.
Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, the leader of the House Freedom Caucus, stated that eliminating earmarks would be a crucial issue when the group considers whether to back House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California for speaker in January.
In response to a question from a reporter on Wednesday, Mr. Perry said, “Look, we understand the subtleties of it. Congress should have a tremendous deal of control over the spending and not just transfer that responsibility to the executive branch.” At the same time, denying reality means denying the coercive and destructive power of earmarks and the dealmaking that goes along with them.
Despite being short 30 votes earlier this month within his own conference, Mr. McCarthy, who needs 218 votes on January 3 to become speaker, declared he would not make an effort to sway the conference over the earmarking ban issue.
“Wasteful spending of taxpayer resources on pet projects for members will continue to undermine the American people’s trust in Congress,” said Cesar Ybarra, vice president of policy at Freedom Works.
According to a statement from Mr. Ybarra, “Americans were promised that there would be government accountability under a Republican majority in Leader McCarthy’s ‘Commitment to America’.” “However, the GOP is undercutting such accountability to fund projects based on necessity before even seizing the gavel, exposing the door for personal ambitions and corruption.”
He claimed that the House’s budget-making process was already ineffective and that earmarks would simply make matters worse. “Whoever becomes the next Speaker of the House should understand that it is critical to alter the way that business is conducted on Capitol Hill.”