November 18th, 2010
04:17 PM ET
12 years ago

House Republicans agree to continue ban on seeking earmarks

Washington (CNN) - House Republicans agreed Thursday to continue their ban on requesting earmarks in the upcoming session of Congress.

The moratorium on pet projects will be written into the rules of the House when Republicans officially take control in January, therefore denying Democrats in that chamber the ability to receive such funds.

Senate Republicans this week endorsed a nonbinding moratorium on earmarks - a reversal for many GOP senators. It appears unlikely, however, that earmarks will disappear entirely from Congress. Democrats in the Senate do not plan on adopting a similar prohibition when they reaffirm their majority status in January.

Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, one of the fiercest opponents of the earmarking process during his five terms in the House, relishes the potential feud over the legislative procedure that many voters have targeted as a prime example of wasteful spending in Washington.

"That is going to be a battle," Flake said. "That is a contrast a lot of us have been wanting to draw for a long time."`

The fate of earmarks may likely be decided by President Barack Obama, says Steve Ellis, spokesman for Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that advocates against the practice.

"It is going to end up being a game of budgetary chicken and the wild card will be the president," Ellis said. "Does he step into the fray and triangulate Senate Democrats, saying he'll veto a bill that has earmarks in it?

If so, he would strengthen the hand of the House."

But for all the heightened talk on the campaign trail about the evils of pork barrel spending, about $15.9 billion in FY 2010 was related earmarks, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. That total constitutes less than 1 percent of the federal government's budget.

House Republicans have laid out some policy proposals to cut spending on a wider scale, including the reduction of government spending to 2008 levels and a freeze on federal employee pay raises, but they have not fully explained how they plan on balancing the budget - a goal that many of the 86 incoming Republican freshmen called for during the election.

"That whole conversation is just beginning. It is our biggest challenge, without any question," said Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-California, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee and a longtime supporter of earmarks, who now opposes the practice. "I think we get the earmark question off the table so it doesn't interfere with our ability to deal with real spending."

Flake agrees.

"Everyone there recognizes that earmarks constitute 1 percent of the budget, but I think everyone recognizes as well, unless you are willing to deal with the most visible part, you won't get to the other things. This was important for that reason."

But for all the heightened talk on the campaign trail about the evils of pork barrel spending, about $15.9 billion in FY 2010 was related earmarks, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. That total constitutes less than 1 percent of the federal government's budget.

Follow Evan Glass on Twitter @evanglasscnn

Filed under: earmarks • House Republicans
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. George

    All tea and trickle down, but no jobs.

    November 18, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. Brad

    Who cares if it is 1%, that money could go towards way more important things, and regardless of how big or how small, that is billions of dollars that could go towards the deficit, that would get rid of 1% of the deficit, then add in other things, and it all adds up to no deficit. Man I hate reading what these idiot politicians have to say. It's only 1% who cares, really?

    November 18, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. Lynne WA state

    Except how many Republicans have now said that things like money for bridges or roads in earmarks are real earmarks? Bad earmarks are the ones I don't like! Bad earmarks are the ones democrats want! Since many of them have changed their tunes in the last 16 days....I'll believe it when I see it.

    November 18, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Nancy Pelosi, the wicked witch of the west, the DemocRAT gift that just keeps on giving

    Democrats in the Senate do not plan on adopting a similar prohibition when they reaffirm their majority status in January.

    More from the DemocRAT Party of "I just don't get it"!! You gotta admit, those DONKEYS sure are stubborn and dumb as stumps!!

    November 18, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Well, that will take care of less than 1% of the budget. How fiscally responsible! Now what about the other 99%, neoclowns? I say we start with the military. They haven't won a war in 65 years or so. Hardly an efficient use of our tax dollars. Have a nice day!

    November 18, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. PalmReader

    I suspect this is ALL the GOPers will manage to complete ... if they can even get this one right. Bachmann and others are already attempting to re-write what an earmark should or shouldn't be to be considered an earmark. For the rest of the two years, seems as if a repeat of the last two years is the order of the day. One Republican delay after another, starting with their first meeting with the President, to actually enacting legislation ... NO and NOTHING. TeaPers ought to have just stayed home on election day along with the Democrats who did stay home What a waste.

    November 18, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. rdepontb

    I take the Republicans notion to return to 2008 funding as another attempt to wipe history clean of President Obama and the millions upon millions who voted for him in this country and the support he had from untold millions across the planet. What a disrectful bunch.

    I think Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, and Blue Dogs all deserve to be shown the door if they can't pass a simple civil-manners test; so far, too many have proven they cannot.

    November 18, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. Clwyd

    wow, and they think that by no earmarks that less than 1/2 of 1% of the budget will have an effect? How about stopping the damn wars.

    November 18, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Lee Bartholomew

    Just fine by me. Republicans are the biggest spenders of earmarks. however earmarks aren't pork. So what they are really doing is nothing. Because the money is still going to be spent. Doesn't do a thing to the deficit if the money's already being spent. Now if they'd vote for a pay cut, that would.

    November 18, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. valwayne

    Obama promised to get rid of corrupt earmarks. What can you say except that he lied. Obama, Nancy, Pelosi, and Harry Reid passed thousands of them into law resulting in billions and billions in additional corrupt spending. The Republicans have been true to their word and have voted in the House and Senate to ban the corruption. Now we are back to asking if Harry Reid in the Senate and Obama in our "Chicago Way" White House will use their power to continue to the corrupt despite the Republicans best efforts? Republicans or Corruption? Who will win?

    November 18, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. Annie, Atlanta

    They voted today against extending unemployment benefits for the people who lost their jobs because GOP policy over the last 30 years destroyed them.

    Jon Kyle is refusing to let a vote come to the floor on the Salt 2 Treaty.

    John McCain was for repeal of DADT if the military big wigs agreed, before he was against it.

    What's going on here? How far are we going to let them destroy our country in order to trash our President? And what the heck were you people thinking when you voted for them a couple of weeks ago? Especially you older folks? You know they want to kill Social Security and Medicare, right?

    We've lost our collective minds, and our souls in the process. Taking care of each other means nothing anymore. It's all about what "I" can get for "me." I love my country, always have and will. But I'm not very proud of us these days when we vote for people who prefer tax breaks for the rich over a cost of living increase for people on Social Security. The GOP doesn't care for any of us outside of election season, and we're all going to pay the price for their soulessness.

    November 18, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Liggins

    They need to put this out there in January so we can see who opposes. I am sure it will come to no surprise. The same people here that say 1% of billions is nothing....

    November 18, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    All you "Constitutionalists" out there need to read the eff-ing document! Congress is SUPPOSED to control the "purse," i.e., earmark money for projects in their districts! The Executive branch is NOT supposed to be deciding how much money gets spent where; ours is a representative government, not one where the Executive branch's political appointees call the shots!

    What needs to happen is TRANSPARENCY so we can see for what the money is proposed.

    THAT'S how you get rid of wasteful spending – shine a little light on all these ridiculous pet projects like the late Ted Stevens "Bridge to Nowhere."

    Please, folks, read the Constitution; don't just blindly follow some windbag who proclaims he/she is a "Constitutionalist."

    November 18, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. Please

    woo hoo you saved .00001% of government spending and shut down important home projects costing more jobs.

    November 18, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. mike4ever

    What is going to happen is that the earmarks will be named something else because the very ones who claim they want to do away with them are the first to request them for their states. They know all they have to name it something else the american people will fall for it all the while they are getting what they want.

    We need to stop fooling ourselves that earmarks are bad for states especially when states are in the red and have cut everything to the bone. Things have to be fixed, built that states cannot do on there own. They should be tied to bills that need to be passed but vote on by themselves. Then people can see just what the people they elected have ask for and received.

    If we want everything to be in the opening then everything need to be look at. Another thing that congress can stop doing is hosting huge dinner parties and to cut their salary. They really could go on a strict nine or ten months in dc and then go back to their states and raise money, meet with all the people in their states and really spend top at jobs in their states to see what is going on. This will bring some of the fussing down and then they can really hear what the people say.

    We need to make them all accountable for giving false information on what the american people want an do not want. Things is not as one sided as they want some to believe and the american people need to stop being mislead by both parties.

    November 18, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. NameHD 100% ETH

    Rep knows how to the American people.
    I want them to Rep/resent me.

    November 18, 2010 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Chuck Anaheim,Ca

    All over less than 1.5% of the total budget. That's cool, now Harry Reid needs to make the rules of the Senate a little stricter. Wanna filibuster everything in sight? Get up in front of the seante and filibuster, explain to the seante and the world why you want to obstruct. Then when you either get tired or stop talking, take a frickin vote already.

    November 18, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. The Big J

    This is a smoke screen to keep the uninformed Nancy Pelosi haters happy. The math from this one simply doesn't add up! If the GOP were serious they'd cut something concrete; like wasteful military spending, stop no bid contracts, give up their medical benefits, & pensions. Pigs will fly first!!!

    November 18, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |