House Republicans Pass Ban on Earmarks

On March 11, House Republicans adopted a ban on earmarks. House GOP leaders should be applauded for pushing members of their party to break their addiction to earmarks.

Earmarks have also been called pork barrel spending or pet projects. An earmark is basically a pet project a lawmaker seeks for his or her own district and state. It could include military spending, road projects, community development grants and a host of other things. One famous wasteful earmark cost taxpayers $50 million and was approved years ago to build an indoor rain forest in the middle of Iowa or that now infamous bridge to nowhere in Alaska. Another earmark is the one included in the 2009 Omnibus Bill which allocated $950,000 directly to the controversial National Council of La Raza. Another from that same bill include $2.9 million for “shrimp aquaculture” in Arizona, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.

This practice of directing federal dollars to home districts and has been a widespread practice amongst both parties. It’s resulted in far too much waste at the taxpayers’ expense.

Voters are frustrated by Washington’s out of control spending. The Treasury Department said on March 10 that the February deficit totaled $220.9 billion, 14 percent higher than the previous record set in February of last year.

There is little question that this is an election-year appeal to voters and an attempt to trump House Democrats and their failure to pass such a ban yesterday. It is at least a sign that House Republicans are listening and acting to fix the problem.

“The time has come for House Republicans to adopt an immediate, unilateral moratorium on all earmarks,” said Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and nine other GOP leaders in a joint statement on March 10. He’s right. It’s true that both parties are guilty of earmarks and members of both parties have tried to end it. Democrat Senator Russ Feingold and Republican John McCain have both been fighting earmarks for years, but the Senate and the President haven’t budged. Perhaps things will change as a result of the House Republicans success on the issue.

According to Roll Call, today’s “ban would affect all earmarks, including those that are tariff- and tax-related.” House Republicans reached agreement on this self-imposed, across-the-board earmark ban in a closed conference. This reflects a unified commitment to control spending we haven’t seen in far too long.

This ban on earmarks is a huge step in the right direction. Voters will respond to the ban now and in the 2010 elections. Just as we must carefully watch our own household budgets, we must also continue to question how our elected officials spend our tax dollars.

Read more at The Americano.

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