Wednesday, May 21, 2014

They're Back?

It's been over three years since Congress banned earmarks. But already there's a growing number in Congress who want to return to the practice.
Of course, earmarks are individual spending projects that members of Congress are able to direct to their home districts with little to no oversight.  Pork projects like the Bridge to Nowhere or the indoor rainforest in Iowa got most of the media coverage but Congress was funding thousands and thousands of similar projects when earmarking was in full swing.
While it's no surprise that some in Congress would miss the power to spend with no accountability, what is surprising - or at least disappointing - is that it's not just Democrats who want to lift the ban on earmarks. Some Republicans are openly defending the practice and talking about lifting the ban.
While I was a member of the House of Representatives, I spent a lot of my time fighting against earmarks. Eventually, we were able to reform the process so that members of Congress were forced to put their name next to an earmark they requested. But we didn't stop there. We continued to make a moratorium on earmarks our goal.
In 2010 House Republicans instituted a ban on GOP earmarks, and when Republicans won control of the House later that year, we extended the moratorium to the entire House. Under public pressure, the Senate was soon forced to follow suit. We finally succeeded in ridding Congress of earmarks!
Unfortunately, it seems that some of the lessons our party learned during our time in the political wilderness were fleeting....
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