In an election-year appeal to voters frustrated with Washington, House Republicans promised Thursday not to stuff any of this year's spending bills with pet projects for their districts.
The promise comes the day after Democrats banned earmarks to for-profit companies, ending a practice that in many cases created a cozy "pay-to-play" culture involving lawmakers and businesses whose Washington lobbyists often use campaign donations to help assure access.
Earmarks send taxpayer dollars to projects in lawmakers' districts outside the competitive process required for other federal spending.
The parties' actions come after the House Ethics Committee investigated seven lawmakers for taking campaign donations from those who benefited form earmarks. The seven were absolved of wrongdoing, but the two parties are seeking political high ground with voters unhappy with Washington and out-of-control spending.
The GOP proposal is a compromise between lawmakers who oppose earmarks, such as Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, and rank-and-file Republicans who had already submitted a round of earmark requests.
Republicans promised a one-year pause in earmarks, not a permanent ban. Boehner said Thursday that suspending earmarks shows Republicans are serious about fixing Washington. Republicans are promising new reforms to make the process more transparent and accountable to the public, but they offered no specifics in a news conference announcing their moratorium.
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