House Democrats have decided to scrap discussions of reintroducing limited earmarks for fiscal 2021 spending measures but said they will seek a path forward for the following year’s appropriations bills.
“While a tight timeframe means the Appropriations Committee will not include community projects in fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills, there is near-unanimous support in the Democratic Caucus for launching community project funding in the 117th Congress,” a House Democratic aide said in a statement Friday.
“In the coming months, appropriators will work closely with bipartisan Members to develop consensus around an accountable, effective, and transparent process for community project funding in fiscal year 2022,” the aide continued.
Democrats had been floating the idea of giving appropriators the power to earmark “community project funding,” restoring a practice that was previously prohibited. Congress first banned earmarks in 2011, after Republicans took back the House in 2010.
Senate Republicans in May voted to permanently ban the practice of including earmarks in government funding bills. GOP senators decided to enact the permanent ban during a closed-door caucus meeting, with aides saying the issue had been under discussion among Republicans for months.
Critics have argued that earmarks are a form of corruption, allowing lawmakers to swap votes in exchange for pet projects in their districts.
But proponents of the practice argue that a limited version could allow legislators to bring their expertise in local issues into the spending process rather than relying on the executive branch to make such decisions. Supporters have also argued that earmarks can help pave the way for more bipartisan legislation.