House Republicans voted on Wednesday to maintain the practice of using congressional earmarks for pet projects when they take power in January.
GOP lawmakers debated the practice, which lets lawmakers insert funding for home-state initiatives into spending bills, during an internal meeting on Wednesday. Some conservatives argued in favor of banning earmarks outright, saying they are synonymous with government corruption.
“Earmarks encourage corruption because they blur the line between the power to appropriate and the power to spend,” said Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. “They undermine federalism by turning the federal budget into a grab bag for local pork projects.”
Those arguments failed, however, as 58 voted to ban earmarks and 158 Republicans voted to keep them.
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Republican initially banned earmarks when they took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. The ban remained in effect until 2020 when Democrats brought the practice back upon winning both the House and Senate.
In President Biden’s budget bill earlier this year, congressional lawmakers included funding for more than 4,400 pet projects through earmarks. House Democrats defended the practice by noting that they had set up a public database to keep track of earmark requests.
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Democrats also limited the number of earmarks lawmakers could request. Still, some lawmakers received hundreds of millions of dollars for their states.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., alone pulled in more than $258 million in earmarks for that one budget bill.
“The new Republican majority needs to make a dramatic, concrete and credible statement that business as usual in Washington is over,” said McClintock. “Is there a more powerful statement than to swear off the wasteful and corrupting practice of congressional earmarking?”
Not everyone agreed with the viewpoint, however. At least one moderate Republican told Fox News Digital that earmarks benefit constituents, especially if awarded in a transparent process.
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“Right now, if you’re brand new to the House and have no seniority, you can’t accomplish much,” said the Republican. “People know earmarks look bad, but in reality it’s better than having to beg someone on appropriations for an opioid clinic in your district. Money is always getting directed somewhere, if it’s not by individual members it will be by lobbyists.”
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