Earmarks are back! Thanks to House Democrats

Roll Call:

House Democrats officially end the ban on earmarks

Announcement marks new era for congressional influence over how government spends $1.4T in discretionary spending annually

House Democrats are officially resurrecting earmarks, ending a decadelong prohibition on congressionally directed spending and giving lawmakers new tools to “bring home the bacon.”

The announcement Friday marks a new era for congressional influence over how the federal government spends some of the $1.4 trillion in discretionary spending approved every year.

But House Democrats detailing how the process will work in that chamber is just one piece of the puzzle. The Senate has yet to announce when and how it will bring back earmarks, and Republicans in both chambers are struggling with whether to remove party rules that bar them from participating in the process.

“We are in good faith negotiations with the House and my Senate colleagues to bring back congressionally directed spending in a transparent and responsible way, and those discussions are ongoing,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement. “I believe there is bipartisan support to restore the power of the purse to Congress and I am continuing to work toward that goal.”

House Democrats’ earmarks plan will cap the total amount of money that can be spent on earmarks to 1 percent of total discretionary spending.

For-profit entities will not be eligible for earmarks and the Government Accountability Office will audit the process by looking at a “sample” of enacted earmarks and submitting a report to Congress.

Oversight and transparency

Members will be capped at submitting 10 earmark requests per fiscal year, though members aren’t guaranteed to get those earmarks included in the annual government funding bills. Lawmakers must provide evidence their communities support the earmarks they submit. And any member submitting a request must post it online at the same time they submit their proposal to the Appropriations Committee.

The House panel plans to create a “one-stop” online portal for all House members’ earmarks requests.

The House will continue to require the oversight and transparency restrictions Democrats put in place before the ban took effect in 2011 and add in new rules as well.

Right …. Mitch McConnell being one of the biggest users of earmarks before they were banned in 2010, is sure to love this.

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