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Bill Would Permanently Ban Earmarks

by Nan Swift / /

Open Letter to the Senate: Support the “Earmark Elimination Act”

Dear Senator:

On behalf of National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I strongly urge you to cosponsor and support S. 2330, the “Earmark Elimination Act.” This bipartisan legislation would make permanent the current temporary ban on earmarks by creating a point of order against any earmark provisions within a bill. A two-thirds majority vote of the Senate would be required to waive the point of order. The earmark moratorium of 2011 was a significant win for taxpayers that should sustained, not squandered.

The House debate over reversing the earmark moratorium makes it clear that a permanent, statutory solution is the best way to curb legislators from acting on their worst instincts. Earmark supporters have argued that reforms can fully insulate earmarks from the corruption and wasteful spending that had become hallmarks of the practice. But the inherently parochial nature of earmarks makes these risks impossible to avoid and puts them fundamentally at odds with the enumerated powers that require Congress to act on behalf of the general welfare of Americans.

For legislators concerned about Congressional oversight and the growing influence of the Executive branch and its agencies, Congress already has all the tools it needs to confront this problem. The legislative process, through budgets, authorizations and appropriations, is the best way to increase accountability, oversight, and Congressional input when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars. Appropriations requests, itself a process in need of reform and transparency, also provides opportunity for Members to make recommendations that would then receive both Committee and chamber consideration.

In addition, Congress should take steps to amend the Administrative Procedures Act and restore the power of interpretation of statutes to the courts. This would check the growing power of federal agencies under the “Chevron doctrine.” Of course, writing less ambiguous legislation could also reduce the authority of agencies in interpreting their statutes and regulations.

Finally, NTU commends Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Pat Toomey (R-PA), John McCain (R-AZ), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rand Paul (R-KY) for their consistent leadership on this important issue. We urge the House to quickly follow suit with companion legislation.

NTU is pleased to endorse the “Earmark Elimination Act.” We encourage all Senators to support this legislation and work towards its swift enactment.