House Republicans will vote soon on whether to bring back the ban on budget earmarks, which are a way for members of Congress to dole out favors using taxpayer money.
Ending earmarks would be an excellent opportunity for the new House majority to combat the wasteful and corrupt political culture that has infected the nation’s capital and is strangling the economy.
Following public ridicule over wasteful pork spending such as the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, Congress did away with the practice in 2011, thanks to the wave of conservatives elected in 2010 because of the tea party movement.
Unfortunately, the temptation to use other people’s money for personal gain proved too strong for Washington to resist for long, and last year Congress brought back budget earmarks.
These earmarks included reams of woke projects that included funding for left-wing activist groups, initiatives that use the word “equity” as a shield for race-based preferences, and a variety of thinly disguised Green New Deal boondoggles.
We also saw a variety of absurdly wasteful items such as $1.6 million for “equitable growth of shellfish aquaculture industry,” $4.2 million for “sheep experiment station infrastructure improvements,” and $3 million for a Gandhi museum in Houston.
- $1 million for Zora’s House in Ohio, a “coworking and community space” for “women and gender-expansive people of color.”
- $3 million for the American LGBTQ+ Museum in New York City.
- $477,000 for the Equity Institute in Rhode Island to indoctrinate teachers with “antiracism virtual labs.”
- $1.2 million for “LGBTQIA+ Pride Centers” and another $1.2 million for “Dreamer Resource Centers” and “advocacy support” (aka helping illegal aliens) at San Diego Community College.
- $3.6 million for a Michelle Obama Trail in Georgia.
- $750,000 for “LGBT and Gender Non-Conforming housing” in Albany, New York.
Silly and absurd earmarks include:
- $2 million for the “Great Blacks in Wax” museum in Baltimore.
- $3 million for water infrastructure on the remote island of St. George, Alaska, which is a cost of over $44,000 for each of the 67 residents.
- A $1.1 million solar array in Kirkland, Washington, one of the least-sunny places in the country.
- $1.5 million to promote eating outdoors in Pasadena, California, one of the sunniest places in the country.
- $1.6 million for the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Vermont. The center is named after Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and he had the audacity to request the earmark.
- Two separate earmarks totaling $5 million for the Universal Hip Hop Museum in New York.
- $13 million for expanding an airport in Abbeville, Alabama, a rural “city” of under 2,500.
When House Republicans meet to set internal rules for the next session of Congress, which begins Jan. 3, they can’t plead ignorance about what tolerating earmarks would mean.
There is talk of Congress passing a bloated omnibus spending deal (including earmarks) during December’s “lame duck” period before the House majority shifts to Republicans.
Republicans in both chambers can stop this from happening by refusing to sign off on such a deal and instead giving the incoming House majority a chance to weigh in and negotiate something better early next year.
The alternative—putting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hands on the wheel one last time—certainly is not a good idea.
Fighting waste and inflation while partially draining the swamp by going after earmarks and slush funds would be a big win for America. Republicans in both chambers should do their parts to make it happen.