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Conservative Americans rejoiced in 2011 when House Republicans led a successful charge to eliminate earmarks. But some GOP politicians are now looking to bring back the earmarking process.
While there is some question as to just how much the earmark ban has cut down on pork spending, reinstating earmarks certainly isn’t going to save taxpayers any money.
But that isn’t stopping a faction of House Republicans from pushing for a vote to reinstate their ability to set aside money in legislation for cronies and pet projects.
Reps. John Culberson of Texas, Mike Rogers of Alabama, Tom Rooney of Florida and Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, who are leading the charge to reinstate earmark power, argue that their goal is to help Congress regain the power of the purse vested in lawmakers by the Constitution.
Congressional conservatives are urging them to find a better way.
“When you hear ‘drain the swamp’ right now, just realize that was the rallying cry for Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in 2006 when they took the majority, largely because of earmarks,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told The Daily Signal.
If Republicans reinstate earmarks, the party of fiscal responsibility will be responsible for every cent of wasteful spending they enable.
That’s why former Sen. Tom Coburn, a harsh fiscal hawk, recently told lawmakers that they should only reinstate earmarks “Republicans really want to give up control of Congress.”
The GOP-led push to bring back earmarks was stalled by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) just after the presidential election last year.
“We just had a ‘drain the swamp’ election,” Ryan told lawmakers at the time. “Let’s not just turn around and bring back earmarks two weeks later.”
But a vote is coming. And some watchers say Republicans who support the initiative are going to become the victims of swamp-draining by fiscally conservative constituents at the polls.
“If there’s a public vote [on earmarks],” Coburn told reporters. “Republicans are going to get killed by some of these grassroots organizations out there now.”