A growing group of GOP lawmakers is planning an aggressive campaign to ban earmarks permanently as Democrats eye their return.
Republicans are circulating a letter in the House and Senate to send to Appropriations chairs in both chambers in support of banning earmarks entirely, a GOP aide familiar with the plan told Fox News. Led by Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the GOP lawmakers are also planning to release an op-ed in support of the Earmark Elimination Act.
The source said the letter has over a dozen cosigners and is planning for many more. “We’re telling all the Republicans, if you stand against the swamp and you want to drain the swamp, the greatest thing the swamp, D.C., and lobbyists love would be earmarks. Bringing it back would be basically giving in to the swamp,” the source said.
The Earmark Elimination Act has earned support from some Democrats when it’s been introduced in the past, but it’s unclear if any will go for it this time around.
Budd and Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., resurrected the Earmark Elimination Act in the House on Thursday.
Earmarks are avenues for lawmakers to direct funding to pet projects in their home districts in spending bills. They were banned in 2011 amid the Tea Party wave, and Democrats are looking to bring them back.
House and Senate Democrats are looking to bring back a “reformed” version of the earmark process to fund “community projects.”
“Nothing epitomizes what’s wrong with Washington more than pork-barrel spending in the form of congressional earmarks. It’s an insult to taxpayers to resurrect such a wasteful and corruptive system,” Budd said in a statement Thursday.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer privately told Democrats that earmarks would be revived on Tuesday, according to Politico. He said he could “guarantee” the effort “will be bipartisan.”
House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro “is working through the details of a reformed process” and will offer more information “in the coming weeks,” a source told the magazine. The new earmarking system would reportedly be more limited than before and governed by a stricter set of rules.
While a number of Republicans, particularly those up for reelection in 2022, would be open to restoring the practice, it’s unclear how widespread support for the practice would be.
Earmarks have been a part of the federal budget for centuries but became more popular in the 1990s when a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the appropriations committees simplified the process to obtain them. They became a hotly contested campaign issue after horror stories of waste and corruption from lawmakers of both parties. Some were thrown in jail for taking bribes in exchange for earmarks. Republicans banned the practice in the House in 2011, and Democrats did the same in the Senate under President Obama shortly after.