Bipartisan bill would permanently ban earmarks

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced a bipartisan bill W...

Posted: Jan 25, 2018 11:53 AM
Updated: Jan 25, 2018 11:53 AM

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced a bipartisan bill Wednesday to permanently eliminate earmarks, a system of spending in Congress that allows funds for a specific purpose to be drawn into a larger federal spending bill.

"The swampiest of swamp creatures is what earmarks are," McCaskill said. She noted earmarks are not based on merit and there's no cost-benefit analysis.

President Donald Trump has voiced his support for bringing back earmarks

While they're already banned, lawmakers want to make that permanent

"It's who you are, who you know and what lobbyist you hired," she said. "I see sprinkling fairy dust in a back room and overruling local and state planning."

The senators came together to make the point that Congress can work in a bipartisan manner without receiving incentives in the form of earmarks.

"It doesn't take 'pork' in the traditional sense, in the congressional sense, to sit us down at a lunch," Flake said.

President Donald Trump surprised lawmakers earlier this month when he praised the system of congressional directives often referred to as pork-barrel spending. The Republican-controlled Congress banned earmarks in 2011 at the charge of then-Speaker of the House John Boehner. The call for more permanent earmark legislation comes after the House Rules Committee announced plans last week to revisit talks and bring back a reformed version of the spending allocation system.

RELATED: 'Crazy talk' vs. 'Smart': Lawmakers split over Trump's earmark proposal

The event, which played heavily on the "pork" theme, left room for plenty of jibes and hog-flavored witticisms. The senators held up bibs that read, "Stick a fork in Congressional Pork," sitting before plates of ribs and coleslaw at a picnic-cloth covered table, complete with a paper pig centerpiece and Missouri's Arthur Bryant's Barbeque Sauce -- McCaskill's "fave," she pointed out.

Advocates for earmarks argue that they create opportunities to fund neglected services or projects outside Washington. McCaskill disputed the claim that earmarks are part of Congress' power of purse, saying as she pointed to her plate of barbecue ribs that it is "such, pardon the expression, hogwash."

Flake cited several examples of what he called egregious earmarking, including funds allocated for a Buffalo Theater ("I didn't know buffaloes could act!" he joked) and the more well-known "Bridge to Nowhere," a bridge constructed in Alaska to a tiny island that had a population of 50 at the time. Flake said earmarks are not only wasteful but also corrupt and that he hopes to end the system with the introduction of this bipartisan Earmark Elimination Act.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 34574

Reported Deaths: 2134
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9853578
Lake3616190
Allen161869
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph127434
Hendricks116971
Hamilton115993
Johnson1105108
Madison58659
Porter53928
Bartholomew51135
Clark50441
LaPorte43323
Howard40828
Tippecanoe4023
Jackson3891
Delaware38537
Shelby37322
Hancock33827
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2742
Montgomery24117
White2358
Noble23221
Clinton2321
Decatur22431
Grant21122
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18211
Greene16924
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Monroe16612
Warrick16628
Lawrence16324
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Kosciusko1351
Jennings1304
Orange12822
Scott1203
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Marshall1082
Carroll932
Daviess8816
Steuben832
Wayne825
LaGrange812
Wabash782
Newton7810
Fayette777
Jasper671
Washington521
Jay520
Clay511
Fulton491
Rush472
Randolph473
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley423
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Brown331
Perry330
Wells320
Benton300
Huntington282
Knox280
Tipton251
Blackford252
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Posey160
Adams151
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 120260

Reported Deaths: 5390
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook779253642
Lake8331291
DuPage7707373
Kane6338178
Will5566276
Winnebago225155
McHenry156672
St. Clair113782
Kankakee91045
Kendall79819
Rock Island65824
Champaign6407
Madison58060
Boone45217
DeKalb4164
Sangamon35129
Jackson28610
Randolph2704
Peoria2339
McLean22013
Ogle2063
Stephenson2062
Macon19319
Clinton18617
Union15411
LaSalle15313
Whiteside14013
Iroquois1324
Coles12715
Out of IL1181
Warren1170
Jefferson10116
Knox1000
Grundy982
Monroe9512
McDonough8811
Unassigned850
Lee811
Cass730
Tazewell735
Henry690
Williamson672
Pulaski560
Marion500
Jasper457
Macoupin452
Adams441
Perry410
Vermilion401
Montgomery391
Morgan361
Christian354
Livingston342
Jo Daviess320
Douglas280
Jersey241
Fayette213
Ford201
Menard200
Woodford192
Mason180
Washington180
Hancock170
Mercer170
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll152
Schuyler130
Bond121
Franklin120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Moultrie110
Piatt110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson80
Effingham71
Massac70
Saline70
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Terre Haute
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 71°
Robinson
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 72°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 68°
Rockville
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Casey
Broken Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Brazil
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 71°
Marshall
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 71°
A warm up on the way.
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events