Senate Republicans hold up earmark return

Senate Republicans are once again standing in the way of what Democrats want to do, but this time their counterparts in the House have left them as the true last persons standing against bigger government and higher spending.

Most Senate Republicans do not want to see the return of earmarks–designated spending for local projects–to Congress after they were banned in 2010, but they may be fighting a losing battle if even just some of their number can be persuaded to bring them back.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that earmarks don’t have much support among Senate Republicans and that they were “very unpopular.”

“I think we’re very unenthusiastic. There may be some Republicans interested in that sort of what’s called congressionally directed spending. It doesn’t enjoy much support among Republicans,” McConnell said.

It wasn’t always this way

He had previously supported earmarks before the GOP banned them in 2010, and in 2011 Democrats followed suit because of rising debt and concerns about lobbying efforts and conflicts of interest. In 2019, the Republican caucus voted to ban them permanently after a temporary ban expired, but less than two years later, it seems that many want to bring them back.

Turns out it was really tempting for elected officials to add local projects to spending bills. Earmarks helped them get votes in their local districts, and sometimes they even pushed projects that would directly benefit themselves or their families.

John Hudak at The Brookings Institute thinks it’s fine to bring earmarks back because there will be more restrictions on them this time around, and people were just doing them in secret, anyway.

This time, there will be limits on the number of earmarks each lawmaker can put forward, and the total of all the earmarks cannot be more than one percent of total spending in the bill.

Lawmakers are also prohibited from putting forward earmarks that involve for-profit companies, or any companies with which they or any of their immediate family members have involvement.

Republicans wary

Even though earmarks will only account for a small amount of the total spending, it might not be a great time to increase spending when Biden and the Democrats just spent $1.9 trillion on a COVID relief bill and Biden is already proposing another $3 trillion in new spending.

He’s only been in office for two months; can you imagine how much spending he will do in four years if Congress allows it? How about Congress looks for ways to actually cut spending instead of increase it, before we end up with a worthless dollar?

You can only print so much additional money and throw it into the system before it makes the money that’s already in there worth less, which will make everything cost a whole lot more. And that’s something we as a country really can’t afford.


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