The effort to bring earmarks back to the U.S. Capitol is in full swing, with politicians from both parties fighting for their return. But House Speaker John Boehner said he will continue to keep them out of his chamber.
"I've been here for 24 years and I've never, ever once asked for an earmark or got one. Not once. I started this effort in 2006 to get rid of earmarks. We are not going back to the nonsense that went on before," the Ohio Republican told Fox Business, as reported by Politico.
Last week, Senate Republicans sparred over earmarks during a lunch, which included a 90-minute debate on the topic. According to Politico, Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Mark Udall, D-Colo., are gathering signatures on a petition to keep the earmark ban in place. They have about 20 signers so far.
"There’s always a movement [to bring back earmarks]. As long as I’m here, no earmarks," Boehner, who outlawed earmarks when he became speaker in 2011, told Fox Business. President Obama agreed with the ban.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the return of earmarks — the local projects lawmakers assign to bills in Congress — could help ease the gridlock in Washington.
"I have been a fan of earmarks since I got here the first day," Reid said.
"It is wrong to have bureaucrats downtown make decisions in Nevada that I can make better than they can make. I don't run away at all. This is something that's been going on for centuries in our country. And it has worked quite well."
Earlier this month, Coburn wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal
in which he urged his colleagues in Washington not to erase the ban on earmarks. He refers to proponents of earmarks as "porkers," in reference to pork barrel politics.
"The porkers' core argument — that Congress needs earmarks to pass good bills that wouldn't pass otherwise — is ludicrous," Coburn writes. "Pork crowds out higher priority needs. On transportation bills, for instance, the Transportation Department's Inspector General told us in 2007 that the presence of earmarks meant members' pet projects were funded ahead of more important projects such as repairing structurally deficient bridges, which now number 63,000 or 10 percent of our nation's bridges. There is a higher chance the bridge you cross today on your way to work could collapse thanks in part to Congress' legacy of perverse priorities."
Coburn also called earmarks "a gateway drug to higher spending."
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