Lankford, Daines, and Colleagues Want to Permanently Ban Earmarks

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), led by Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) and several of their colleagues today introduced legislation to permanently ban earmarks. This follows an agreement by House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro to bring the practice back to Congress.

Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Rand Paul (R-KY) joined Lankford and Daines in support of the bill.

“When Oklahomans send their hard-earned tax dollars to Washington, DC, they deserve for them to be spent wisely, not used to fund other states’ pet projects, like a bridge to nowhere or a traffic light in a powerful lawmaker’s hometown,” said Lankford. “We should focus on doing what is best for every American, not making life easier for elected officials. I’m glad to introduce the Earmark Elimination Act to ensure we do not return to the days where federal spending bills were all-you-can-eat pork buffets.”

“Earmarks do nothing but add to the toxic, swampy culture that DC’s known for,” Daines said. “These back-room deals promote pay-for-play behavior that make lobbyists rich on the taxpayer’s dime. It’s time we get rid of earmarks once and for all.”

“Earmarks allow lobbyists and politicians to belly up to the pork barrel buffet in order to fund pet projects that are based on politics and favors instead of merit. Going back down this road will only fuel more overspending and further undermine the legislative process,” Toomey said.

“A return to the ham-fisted tactic of individual earmarks would be a win for Washington special interests and lobbyists and a loss for hardworking Iowa taxpayers. There’s no reason to go back to the old days of politicians pigging out on taxpayer dollars—earmarking millions for their own pet projects, like the infamous bridge to nowhere in Alaska. It’s past time to permanently ban the bacon from the legislative process, and finally put an end to one of Washington’s swampiest traditions,” Ernst said.

“Bringing back earmarks would overturn one of the most significant conservative victories to end the practice of inserting special interest pork to pass irresponsible and bloated spending bills. The widespread practice of earmarks corrupted the legislative process and banning them was a crucial step towards restoring public trust in Congress. I am proud to help lead the fight to ban earmarks because Congress should be focused on restoring fiscal sanity, not bringing home the bacon,” Cruz said.

“Banning earmarks in 2011 was the first step in reforming Congress’s dysfunctional budget process. Much more work needs to be done, but backsliding into the corrupt and corrupting earmarks racket should not be an option,” Lee said.

“Lifting the ban on earmarks is exactly the kind of thinking that is bankrupting our nation. We must continue to forbid these unauthorized appropriations that have led to millions of tax dollars being funneled through backdoor deals and then parachuted in in the dead of night,” said Paul. “It’s deceitful legislation like this that has caused the American public to lose faith in their government.”

“For decades, Congress abused the trust and faith of the American people by handing out earmarks to well-connected businesses, campaign donors, and others who could afford a high-priced lobbyist. Those backroom deals led to corruption and waste, and bought votes in Congress for unpopular legislation. We cannot go back to those days, which is why I am proud to join Senator Daines in this effort to ban earmarks once and for all,” Rubio said.

“Earmarks represent some of the worst of Washington’s waste. This legislation will help make sure taxpayers hard-earned money is not spent on politicians’ pet projects and other boondoggles that only further Washington’s corruption,” Johnson said.

“Instead of reviving earmarks, Congress should be pushing to ban them permanently and I’ve consistently supported legislation to do so,” said Portman. “At a time of record debt, it is more important than ever to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending once and for all.”

Earmarks are a way to direct discretionary funds to specific recipients without going through a merit-based or competitive allocation process. In 2019, a Republican-controlled Senate banned earmarks. 

To read the full text, click HERE.