As G.O.P. Rails Against Federal Spending, Its Appetite for Earmarks Grows

During the prolonged floor fight last month over electing Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California, hard-right Republicans who resisted supporting him sought an array of measures to rein in spending, including by making it more difficult to secure earmarks, but it was not known whether that change was part of the raft of concessions Mr. McCarthy ultimately provided to win their votes. His office did not respond to requests for clarification about how earmarks would be handled.

For now, the practice appears to be gaining currency with at least some segment of the otherwise fiercely anti-spending G.O.P. Thirteen more Republicans requested earmarks in the latest spending bill in December than the previous one in March, the Times analysis found.

“I play with the rules of the House, and I want to make sure our districts are represented, so that’s why I did that,” Mr. Bacon, who has opposed earmarks in the past, said in an interview. “Even if you didn’t agree with the rules, you play by them because if you don’t, your district suffers for it.”

Opponents of earmarks argue they can lead to a lack of trust in politicians who may be seen as trying to buy votes by bringing home money.

“We call it the most corrupt, costly, inequitable practice in the history of Congress,” said Tom Schatz, the president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonprofit government watchdog group, adding that most of the funding goes to members “either on the appropriations committees or in leadership.”

Several high-profile scandals prompted lawmakers to pause the practice more than a decade ago, including one that led to the resignation in 2005 of former Representative Randy Cunningham, Republican of California, who went to prison for accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes — including the use of a yacht named “Duke-Stir” — from military contractors for whom he secured federal contracts.

Democrats resurrected and overhauled the practice during the last Congress, imposing stricter rules such as one requiring that each request be made public online with a letter explaining why the project was needed and another mandating that each lawmaker attest that they had no personal or family connection to the proposal.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy