Members Introduce Bill to Permanently Ban Earmarks | Citizens Against Government Waste

Members Introduce Bill to Permanently Ban Earmarks

The WasteWatcher

Despite efforts to hide behind the 2011 earmark moratorium, earmarks continue to be included in annual appropriations legislation, and discussions to bring them back continue unabated.  Once seen as a means of “bringing the bacon home” for their constituents, earmarks are instead one of the most corrupt, costly, and inequitable practices in history.

As Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) Director of Research Sean Kennedy wrote in his February 11, 2020 article, “While the moratorium has reduced the cost of earmarks from their peak of $29 billion in FY 2006, the present system is utterly devoid of transparency.”  This is one reason that CCAGW was able to identify $15.3 billion of earmarks in the 2019 Congressional Pig Book, which Kennedy noted was “a record amount under the so-called moratorium.”

CCAGW reviews legislation for earmarks based on a seven-point criteria:  1) Requested by only one chamber of Congress; 2) Not specifically authorized; 3) Not competitively awarded; 4) Not requested by the President; 5) Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding; 6) Not the subject of congressional hearings; or 7) Serves only a local or special interest.  Because Congress does not use the same definition for earmarks, members often delude themselves that their efforts to bring the bacon home do not constitute an earmark.

Since a moratorium is by definition temporary, Reps. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Ted Budd (R-N.C.) introduced H.R. 6211, the Earmark Elimination Act of 2020 on March 11, 2020.  This legislation would permanently prohibit an earmark from being included in any bill, joint resolution, amendment, or conference report.  The bill defines a “congressional earmark” as a provision or report language included “primarily at the request of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator providing, authorizing or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority, or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or congressional district, other than through a statutory or administrative formula-driven or competitive award process.”

Members of Congress should continue to seek ways to reduce federal spending and shrink the size of government.  H.R. 6211 is a good start.


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