Republicans Withdraw Earmarks Amendment

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who was promoting an amendment to House GOP rules that would have made it easier to use earmarks, has withdrawn his idea after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) bluntly stated his opposition. Young’s amendment would have allowed earmarks if the recipient of the earmark was a unit of local government.

A source close to Boehner said that Young’s amendment would have created "a gaping loophole" to the ban on earmarks:

At the end of the day, he declined to offer it because of the clear opposition in the room. Prior to Young pulling the amendment, the Speaker had let it be known that he opposed the amendment and would ask for its defeat if offered.

Boehner has opposed earmarks for years; in all his years in the House, he has never requested an earmark. Pushing for an earmark ban when the House was taken over by the Republicans in 2010, Boehner said:

… earmarks have become a symbol of a Congress that has broken faith with the people. This earmark ban shows the American people we are listening and we are dead serious about ending business as usual in Washington.

There have been cogent reasons for some law-makers to restore earmarks. For example, Rep. John Culberson (Texas) who is chairman of a military construction Appropriations panel, remarked that he wasn’t able to expedite the expansion of a governmental military facility in Ohio because earmarks were banned.  Culberson said, “In light of new security threats to our country and our allies, expansion of [the Foreign Materials Exploitation Lab] is desperately needed now. And because of the earmark ban, I can't move it … it’s just nuts.”

But Republicans are wary of the corruption often found around earmarks; in 2006 Republicans lost the House in part because of accusations against Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.) for accepting bribes in exchange for securing millions of dollars in earmarks for defense contractors. Cunningham pleaded guilty to bribery charges and was sentenced to prison.


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