Tacking a favorite project on to another bill sort of went away three years ago when too many members of Congress said it wasted taxpayer dollars.
It never really disappeared, it’s just being done some other ways.
But now Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee are starting to quietly defend earmarks.
Chairman Republican Bill Shuster agrees the bad reputation that earmarks have earned in years past.
But while is isn’t saying earmarks have a legitimate role in Congress, or that the House should drop the ban – he’s saying the practice could be helpful to legitimate projects.
Complain all you want but Senator Dan Inouye brought a lot federal money to Hawaii over the years through earmarks.
Things got done that probably wouldn’t have without them.
But here’s the problem: in the reauthorization of the highway bill eight years ago, it included some 6,300 earmarks.
The last time Congress reauthorized the Water Resources Development Act in 2007, it contained almost 900 earmarks.
Politicians went crazy adding “special” projects for their home state.
Now some in the GOP are saying: If Congress doesn’t earmark the money to go somewhere, agencies in the Obama administration will do it.
Their argument is “continued abuse by the executive branch will lead people back to responsible designations by Congress and a priority of projects. At some point, things will turn around and come back. When people abuse either one, whether it’s executive branch or Congress, there is a rebellion, and that took place with earmarks.”
Simplistic argument and it serves their side.
The facts are earmarks have been misused.
They also never added up to a lot of money – less than one-half of one percent and in many cases they served a useful purpose.
In some cases they didn’t.
The prime example is the infamous $230 million Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska.
None of this is getting the Republican leadership to change course.
House Speaker John Boehner says there’s no way he plans to lift the moratorium.
They will return.
It’s just a matter of when.