A split House Republican Conference voted Wednesday to overturn the House GOP’s ban on earmarks.
House Republicans voted 102-84 on the resolution sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), which is reportedly a much closer vote than House GOP leadership thought.
The renewed practice requires Republican lawmakers to write a justification for any earmark they want to sponsor, and verify they have no financial stake in the earmark.
Those in favor of bringing back earmarks believe it would bring more power to Congress and can serve as a tool to rein in the Biden administration. House Republicans also believe it could serve as an incentive for House Republican leadership to whip Republicans into voting for the legislation.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) said, “I’m a yes. With the changes with transparency — it’s not the Upton Road to the Upton House; you have support in writing from local units of government — I think that’s a fair approach.”
However, House Freedom Caucus conservatives said the practice would only lead to more abuse and needless spending.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said, “We’ve got $30 trillion in debt, and people are tired of the swamp. And the GOP should be ashamed of itself if it jumps headfirst right back into the swamp.”
Now that House Republicans have voted to bring back earmarks, the Senate is working out whether to bring back the practice.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would defer to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the Senate Appropriations Committee’s ranking member.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), a member of the appropriations committee, said, “There are some who are serving now who never lived in an earmark world,” Capito said. “I think as a conference we’re going to have a big discussion on this. I don’t know when, but we better do it soon.”
Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) President David Williams condemned House Republicans’ revival of earmarks. He said in a statement Wednesday:
This is an embarrassing and shameful vote for Republicans. With this vote bringing back earmarks, the GOP has given up on being the party of fiscal responsibility. Earmarks are corrupt giveaways that unnecessarily burden American taxpayers. Former members of Congress including Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham (R-Calif.) were sent to jail for accepting bribes to secure earmarks. Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff also spent time in jail in connection with earmarks promised to clients. When earmarks are allowed, corruption and convictions soon follow. Former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called earmarks are the ‘gateway drug to a spending addiction.’ He was 100 percent correct.
Some of the most egregious examples of earmarks include: $50 million for an indoor rain forest in Iowa; $500,000 for a teapot museum; and $100,000 for the Tiger Woods Foundation. The party of ‘draining the swamp’ just opened the floodgates to fill it. We urge members of the Republican Conference to remember their promises to voters and to work in their best interests instead of saddling them with more debt in service of a narrow political agenda.
Williams added, “Republicans who voted to bring back earmarks should be ashamed of themselves and are obviously more concerned about their own power rather than the fiscal well-being of the country.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.