Conservatives Must Oppose a Return to Earmarks

February 24, 2021
Washington, DC

Conservatives do not support congressional attempts to return to the practice of earmarking. We urge all congressional Republicans to oppose this effort – and to do so by publicly joining a letter in opposition led by Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. Ted Budd, Rep. Lauren Boebert, Rep. Andy Biggs, and Rep. Chip Roy. Regardless of what Democrats do, Republicans should maintain their conference rule that prohibits their party’s use of earmarks, and oppose every effort to overturn it.

Congress has a long history with earmarks, one which demonstrates that the practice almost exclusively ends in the funding of absurd and useless projects, as well as Member corruption.

As the Cruz-Budd-Boebert-Biggs-Roy letter notes,

….the 2000s were marred by infamous earmarks like the Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere,” an indoor rainforest in Iowa, a Teapot Museum, and absurd research projects like analyzing goth culture. The wide-spread practice of earmarks was corrupting. Earmarks were used to buy and sell votes and reward favors. Earmarks brought discredit on the House and Senate and ultimately led to several Members of Congress being convicted on corruption charges.

For this reason, Republican leaders placed a moratorium on the practice of earmarking in 2011. This does not mean that state and local projects are not funded; it simply means that those choices are made transparently, and through the relevant committee process.

Contrary to some claims, earmarking will not bring back a “governing consensus.” Rather, it will result in the furious horse trading which benefits only the most powerful and well-connected, while casting the pall of corrupt deal making and self-enrichment over a Congress that is already widely distrusted by those it claims to represent.

Earmarking will also give Democrats one more tool to buy off cheap Republicans in pursuit of an agenda that includes mass amnesty for illegal immigrants, a comprehensive upending of our election laws, entrenchment of Democratic power via District of Columbia statehood, and any number of dramatic revisions to our body politic.

The practice of earmarking ends in waste and corruption – we know this, because we have seen it before. We urge all Republicans to vocally oppose a return to earmarking by signing onto the Cruz-Bud-Boebert-Biggs-Roy letter, by voting against the practice, and by keeping the prohibition of the Republican conference in place, regardless of what actions are taken by Democrats.

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