Ryan Halts House Vote on Proposal to Bring Back Earmarks in Wake of Trump Win

“Did they learn nothing at all from these elections? Earlier Wednesday, House Republicans appeared to be ignoring President-elect Donald Trump’s call to reform Washington when they scheduled the vote on whether to overturn their own ban on earmarks — billions of dollars for pet projects tucked into spending bills. A debate over spending authority
The explosion in earmarks roughly 15 years ago gave the Appropriations Committee the nickname as the “favor factory,” with lobbyists contributing campaign donations to members of the panel and clients nabbing federal money for water systems, road construction and other items. “I’m one of the kinds of earmarks,” the retiring Nevadan said. Mike Rogers of Alabama, would not have opened the door to members directing funds for all agencies, but if it passed it would have certainly put Congress back in charge of who gets billions of dollars in federal money. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks during a press conference after a House Leadership Election on Capitol Hill on November 15, 2016 in Washington, D.C. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking GOP leader in the Senate, said if the rule is changed in the House it’s unlikely to be adopted in the Senate and therefore would be moot. Lou Barletta, a member of the Trump transition team, told CNN earlier Wednesday, adding, “some bureaucrat somewhere could be spending this money and now we have no control over that spending.”
Barletta said before Ryan’s comments that he expected the proposal would have enough votes to pass, but outside conservative advocacy groups were lobbying against it. Ryan supported that move and has emphasized it in recent speeches. Tom Rooney, one of the members who proposed the change, told reporters Tuesday that the amount of spending wouldn’t increase but would just be controlled by members of Congress who know the specific needs of their districts. “I think it was a terrible disservice to America to come up with this stupid idea to stop congressional-directed spending.”
“I never apologized to anybody,” Reid added. Arizona GOP Sen. Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, pointed to last week’s election results as evidence that House Republicans should keep the earmark ban. “I go home and I boast about earmarks and that’s what everyone should do.”
But Sen. House Speaker Paul Ryan successfully lobbied his Republican colleagues Wednesday to postpone a vote on a proposal to bring back earmarks. Multiple House Republicans told CNN the proposal was on track to pass when Ryan warned they needed to slow down and put a process in place on how to address the issue. Rooney told reporters his proposed change is not about money but about who has the authority to tell the Army Corps of Engineers how to dole out their funds for local projects — Congress or “unelected bureaucrats.”
“‎I can write a letter and hope that they listen to me, which over at the Army Corps they probably take that letter and put it into the shredder. After this historic election are they really going to go back to business as usual in their first votes? Former House Speaker John Boehner ran his leadership campaign on attacking the earmark practice and did away with it when he took over in 2011. (Credit: Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
“We just had a ‘drain the swamp’ election,” Ryan told members, according to a GOP source in the room. Supporters of the change argued that ban went too far because they can’t direct funding to much-needed projects in their districts. People are tired of business as usual in DC. The symbol of some of the wasteful spending was the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” that linked a small Alaskan town to an island. Jeff Flake, a champion of the reform when he served in the House, warned ahead of the vote in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday that “you can’t drain the swamps by feeding the alligators pork.”
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he strongly opposes the ban on earmarks that was put in place over his objections. Florida Republican Rep. John Culbertson and Rep. “I understand there were problems with it, and there were abuses in the earmark system, but it’s still Congress’ constitutional duty and responsibility to spend the money,” Pennsylvania Republican Rep. “Let’s not just turn around and bring back earmarks two weeks later.”
House GOP members applauded and agreed to put off the issue until the first quarter of 2017, when they have more time to have detailed plan to oversee spending bill talks. They don’t give a rat’s ass what I think.”
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Had the new rule been added to the House Republicans’ package that is being crafted this week, it would have gotten a final vote in January when the House approves the guidelines for the new session of Congress.