When President Trump offered his out-of-the-blue endorsement for the return of congressional earmarks on Tuesday, he broke the first rule of the hesitant House Republican bid to revive them: Don’t call them earmarks.
“Our system lends itself to not getting things done, and I hear so much about earmarks—the old earmark system—how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks,” the president told a group of about two dozen House and Senate lawmakers at the White House, in something of a non sequitur from their effort to reach an immigration accord. “Of course, they had other problems with earmarks. But maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks. You should do it, and I’m there with you, because this system really lends itself to not getting along.”
The lawmakers laughed. Some of them perhaps chuckled nervously, knowing that Trump had waded into politically treacherous waters by giving his blessing to the kind of pork-barrel spending that had become synonymous with Washington corruption. Before Trump had campaigned on “draining the swamp,” earmarks—spending provisions directed to specific local projects or organizations that were often slipped into bills at the last minute with little debate—had been a big part of the muck.
Senator John McCain had run an entire presidential campaign in 2008 by pledging to kill federal funding for projects like Alaska’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” a span connecting a small town to an even tinier island for which the state’s representatives had secured earmarks totaling $320 million. Two GOP congressmen, Representatives Randy “Duke” Cunningham of California and Bob Ney of Ohio, and a top lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, had gone to prison for crimes related to earmarks. The lawmakers were accused of abusing their earmarking power to reward contractors and campaign donors in exchange …read more
Via:: The Atlantic