The Corner

Politics & Policy

New Congress Revives the Pork-Barrel Earmark Monster

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the president pro tempore of the Senate, pauses in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 25, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/Reuters Pool)

One of the Republicans’ great achievements, after they took control of Congress in 2010, was to abolish the corrupt earmarking process, which had given us such porkers as the infamous Alaska “bridge to nowhere.” Democrats (and some Republicans) now want to bring back the pork projects — so members can bring home the bacon and buy votes.

Punchbowl News reports that Senate Appropriations chair Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) and House Appropriations chair Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.) will soon announce the return of earmarks into the appropriations process.

The late Senator Tom Coburn said earmarks serve as “a gateway drug on the road to the spending addiction” and noted how many members feel compelled to vote for bloated spending bills out of fear their states or districts will be shortchanged.

In vetoing a 1987 bill stuffed with earmarks, Ronald Reagan quoted Thomas Jefferson, who warned that allowing Congress to spend federal money for local projects would set off “a scene of scramble among the members [for] who can get the most money wasted in their State, and they will always get most who are meanest.”

We’re about to see Washington get even meaner, if that’s possible.


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