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Republicans Bring Back Earmarks

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

Here's another reason to subscribe to Steve Moore's Unleash Prosperity Hotline – it’s the only outlet that reported that the new GOP majority voted to bring back the outrageous practice of “earmarking” projects in spending bills.

All the reporting on the GOP Conference meeting centered on whether or not Kevin McCarthy has enough votes to be elected Speaker of the House.


But none of it except Steve Moore’s cover what is arguably the most important policy decision to come out of the new GOP majority’s first meeting – which is that we can kiss goodbye any notion of Republican fiscal responsibility, let alone conservatism, from a Kevin McCarthy-led GOP majority.


Now, here’s what’s really depressing. Steve Moore reported Rep Matt Rosendale of Montana said the conference vote was:

55 supporting the prohibition of earmarks

152 opposing prohibition


Three out of four alleged “fiscal conservative” Republicans were in favor of playing pigs at the trough.


Steve reported one Republican member boasted in the caucus debate that through earmarks he brought money back to his district to buy a fire truck. These are the people that are supposed to lead us back to fiscal sanity?


Kevin McCarthy – who is in line to be the House Speaker – did not oppose the measure.


Oh, and here’s an even more pathetic development, said Steve Moore. Republicans won’t call their special projects “earmarks” anymore. Now they will use the euphemism “community development projects.”


Many Republicans we have talked to said earmarks are fiscally trivial. So, wasting billions of dollars is justified because we spend trillions of dollars we can’t afford. As the late great Senator Tom Coburn often reminded us: “Earmarks are the gateway drug to out-of-control spending.” And now they are bipartisan.


Steve Moore is right about the McCarthy GOP’s abandonment of fiscal sanity, but we have another concern about earmarks that goes beyond their relatively small impact on the overall federal budget – they are the bargaining chips used by the House and Senate leadership to get bad legislation passed.


Earmarks are the currency of corruption, and they fuel spending growth.


The House Republican leadership may think that renaming “earmarks” as “community development projects” will fool Americans, but we know a cute name doesn’t change the fact that members of Congress will once again be able to spend our money to buy votes from other members, in order to pass legislation that can’t get enough votes on the merits.


Back in the old pre-Newt days House Republicans were a demoralized force and remained in the minority for decades in large measure because of earmarks. Most Republicans would show up, make perfunctory objections to what the Democrats were doing and then happily toss their conservative principles aside in return for a couple of stoplights or an overpass in their district – and if a conservative squeaked too loudly the public execution of his or her earmarked project might not be too far behind.


The leaking of earmark requests was also a handy tool to keep Members in line – nothing like letting the voters in one county know they lost out to make a Member’s next trip home to a townhall or Chamber of Commerce luncheon an exciting affair that weakened political support for a recalcitrant conservative.


The return of earmarks will only hasten the demoralization of the new House Republican majority. The House leadership that allowed this folly to happen should be replaced forthwith. We urge CHQ readers and friends to call the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 and tell your Representative that you oppose the use of earmarks and demand the replacement of any House Republican leader that supports them.



  • earmarks

  • Republican majority

  • federal budget

  • regular order

  • special interests

  • pork barrel spending

  • fiscal responsibility

  • Kevin McCarthy

  • community development projects

  • Senator Tom Coburn pig book

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