Earmark Ban Under Threat In House

National Taxpayers Union (NTU) is strongly opposed to a potential threat to the current earmark ban, which restricts the types of pork-barrel spending that have outraged taxpayers in the past. The House Republican Conference plans to vote by secret-ballot on an amendment offered by Representatives Culberson (R-TX) and Rogers (R-AL) that would loosen the ban to permit earmarks if the recipient is the Federal Government, a state, or “unit of local government.” This would open the door to a host of new opportunities to irresponsibly dispense taxpayer dollars.

Many of the most notoriously wasteful earmarks, prior to the implementation of the 2011 ban, would still be permitted under this new rubric, such as Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere,” Boston’s “Big Dig,” and the Sparta, NC Teapot Museum. Voters decisively opposed these kinds of taxpayer-backed boondoggles. The proposed amendment would greatly weaken critical limits on Member’s earmarking authority. Earmarks on behalf of agencies of the federal or local governments are no less subject to favoritism and pork-barrel politicking than other recipients of taxpayer largess.

NTU Federal Affairs Manager, Nan Swift, urged House Republicans to oppose the amendment, “Only one week ago, voters went to the polls with a message to ‘Drain the Swamp.’ This effort to undermine the earmark ban, a major win for taxpayers who want to restrict Washington’s power, is at odds with the expectations of voters nationwide. Far from ‘draining the swamp,’ the Culberson/Rogers amendment would open the spending floodgates. Federally funded projects should be considered on their merits, not as currency to buy votes.”