Citizens Against Government Waste Testifies Before House Rules Committee, Opposes Return of Earmarks

For Immediate Release
Contact: Curtis Kalin 202-467-5318

January 18, 2018
 

(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz testified today before the House Rules Committee hearing entitled, “Article I: Effective Oversight and the Power of the Purse.”  Schatz’s message to the committee was vigorous opposition to resurrecting the most corrupt and wasteful practice in congressional history:  Earmarks.

The oral testimony reads, in part:

“CAGW has long maintained that earmarks are corrupt, unfair, and wasteful.  The corruption included members of Congress, staff, and lobbyists going to jail.

“The unfairness occurs because a small number of members purloin a majority of earmarks.  In the 111th Congress, when the names of members of Congress were included in the appropriations bills under the “congressionally directed spending” section, the 81 members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, who constituted 15 percent of the Congress, procured 51 percent of the earmarks and 61 percent of the money.  For those members who may tempted by an earmark or two in return for voting for the next infrastructure bill, they should not count on getting what they have requested.

“It is not a coincidence that earmarks are being brought up as Congress is about to consider an infrastructure bill.  Many members believe earmarks are essential to passing such legislation.  However, the first federal aid-highway bill in 1916 had no earmarks; the bill to create the Interstate Highway System in 1956 had two projects suggested by members of Congress.  President Reagan vetoed a surface transportation bill in 1986 when it had 152 earmarks worth $1 billion, while the most recent highway authorization bill in 2005 had more than 6,300 earmarks worth $24.5 billion, including the infamous Bridge to Nowhere.  One year later, the fiscal year 2006 appropriations bills contained a record $29 billion in earmarks.  In the first Congressional Pig Book in 1991, there was $3.1 billion in earmarks.

“Congress has the constitutional authority to spend money.  We suggest that it should be done with far greater oversight and accountability, along with a dramatically enhanced authorization process, rather than through earmarks.”

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  

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