While Senate Democrats have not banned the practice, the new GOP majority in the House will probably stop any earmark-filled spending bills from the Senate side.
If you need a refresher on what they are, check here.
When you come back, Politics 101 will be in session.
No problem, there’s another way for a congress member to funnel money to his or her district.
May we introduce you to “lettermarking” and “phonemarking”.
It’s easy to do – just pick up the phone or write a letter and “suggest” federal agencies steer existing funding to their preferred pet projects.
Believe us – some will make those calls or write those letters.
And when a congress member wants something, it happens.
Of course that means projects that the money was intended for may not get done.
As of now, evidence of lettermarking can only be obtained through time-consuming requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
As you can imagine, the folks that spend time worrying about this stuff are up in arms running around yelling the sky could fall.
They want House Republicans to adopt an amendment to its rule proposals on January 4th that would require members to publish the letters they send to agencies on behalf of pet projects.
Right now, all this is only a potential problem but it’s still giving some watchdog groups a headache.
Welcome to the new year.