President Donald Trump endorsed earmarks at a White House meeting on immigration reform on Tuesday, arguing that it would help build coalitions to pass legislation.
Trump told congressional lawmakers, “I think we should look at a form of earmarks. One thing it did is it brought everybody together.”
“This system really lends itself to not getting along. It lends itself to hostility and anger. They hate the Republicans and they hate the Democrats,” Trump added.
The 45th president said, “Maybe we should think about it and maybe we should put better controls in because it got out of hand. Maybe that will bring people together.”
The president suggested that reviving earmarks could help restore some level of bipartisanship in Washington, D.C.
President Trump said, “It’s going to bring you together.”
Earmarking serves a legislative process through which lawmakers can apply federal spending to a particular project.
The Congressional Research Service defined earmarks as:
Provisions associated with legislation (appropriations or general legislation) that specify certain congressional spending priorities or in revenue bills that apply to a very limited number of individuals or entities. Earmarks may appear in either the legislative text or report language (committee reports accompanying reported bills and joint explanatory statement accompanying a conference report).
Critics argued that the process facilitates pork barrel spending. But Trump contended on Tuesday that the process could aid congressional negotiations.
Former House Speaker John Boehner eliminated earmarks in 2010 after Republicans gained control of the House in 2010. Speaker Paul Ryan said that Congress continues to study whether to return to using earmarks in the legislative process. Ryan noted that Congress has made no formal move yet to revive the earmark.
Speaker Ryan told reporters on Tuesday, “I want our members to have conversations.”