Ten members of the U.S. Senate have announced a move to reaffirm and support a ban on Congressional earmarks that has been in place since 2010.
The move comes as some lawmakers have suggested bringing the practice back, noting that the controversial legislative practice is sometimes the only way to secure funding for public building projects back home.
Earmarks have traditionally been inserted into discretionary spending bills, but in so doing, they are not subject to the normal competitive funds allocation process.
Two of the ten senators, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, have now introduced the Earmark Elimination Act, which would prohibit earmarks through the means of a “point of order.”
That mechanism will both point out an earmark in a given piece of legislation and automatically strike it out. The earmark could only be kept in place through the difficult process of a two-thirds vote of the Senate.
In a public letter, the ten senators declare: “Although proponents claim the process can be cleaned-up by simply adding more transparency, history has demonstrated that earmarking is inherently corrupt.”
The bill proposed by Flake and McCaskill will permanently ban earmarks from all Senate legislation.
The use of earmarks has been opposed by presidents of both parties. In 1987, Ronald Reagan vetoed a highway bill with 152 earmarks. In 2011, Barak Obama warned Congress that he would veto any legislation containing earmarks.
By Garry Boulard
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