Pork barrel spending won’t be returning to Congress any time soon after Senate Republicans this week moved to permanently ban earmarks.
The Senate GOP on Thursday behind closed doors added a permanent ban on earmarked spending to their conference rules, a move that comes as some buzz had built around an eventual return of earmarks.
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Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who pushed for the Senate GOP ban on Thursday, boasted that the move stops a looming “earmark binge.” His office said the 28-12 vote followed a “heated” 45-minute debate.
A moratorium on earmarks from 2011 expired in January and Democratic leaders, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, spent weeks earlier this year working with Republicans in both chambers to reach a deal to usher them back, though that deal never materialized.
President Donald Trump has even endorsed the idea of bringing them back.
House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in March that earmarks wouldn’t return this year, but left the door open for the future, saying at the time that “over the coming months, Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate must discuss the issue of earmarks in our respective caucuses and conferences to determine member preferences, solicit ideas to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, and when applicable, change rules to permit members to request earmarks.”
Sasse said earmarks needed to be ruled out.
“It’s pretty simple: Earmarks are a crummy way to govern and they have no business in Congress,” Sasse said in a statement. “Backroom deals, kickbacks, and earmarks feed a culture of constant incumbency and that’s poisonous to healthy self-government. This is an important fight and I’m glad that my Republican colleagues agreed with my rules change to make the earmark ban permanent.”