The Conservative Action Project is demanding the Republican-run House maintain its ban on earmarks and not turn to cronyism.
A group of conservative leaders has come out to warn against the possibility of Congress bringing back earmarks.
On Thursday, the Conservative Action Project released a memo signed by over 50 leading conservatives demanding the Republican-run House maintain its ban on earmarks, which has been in place since 2010.
These vocal opponents of congressionally designated interest spending, or earmarks, want these efforts to be a step toward “draining the swamp” after some House Republicans are attempting to erode the ban and again open the door to taxpayer-funded special interest projects.
“It’s hard to think of a single practice in the political arena that better represents the ‘swamp’ of Washington than earmarking. Earmarks are cronyism in its purest form and erode Americans’ faith in their elected officials and system of representative government,” read the memo released by the Conservative Action Project that was signed and endorsed by former Attorney General Ed Meese and former Ronald Reagan White House adviser Becky Norton Dunlop, who are both affiliated with The Heritage Foundation.
Other notable conservative signatories included ForAmerica President David Bozell, former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, Americans for Constitutional Liberty Chairman Peter Thomas, Citizens Against Government Waste President Thomas Schatz, Media Research Center President L. Brent Bozell, The Resurgent Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson, and Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning.
The Conservative Action Project says it intends to fight against earmark return by calling for the cancellation of a special congressional meeting for earmark reform.
The memo stated, “Press reports indicate that House Republicans intend to hold a special meeting by March of this year to discuss how earmarks could be ‘reformed’ and thus returned to practice. House Republican Leadership should call off this meeting and declare that the earmark ban will remain in force.”
Additionally, these opponents of congressional earmarks are also promoting total transparency for any meetings that could be held to bring back earmarks. They claim the legislators attempting to bring back the special interest spending even know their efforts could come with political blowback.
“If House Republicans feel they must proceed with their special meeting on earmarks, then House Republican Leadership should ensure that the meeting is publicly announced at least a week in advance and is covered live on TV and internet video stream,” the Conservative Action Project said in its advocacy memo.
If the aforementioned measures do not succeed in stopping the return of earmarks, the Conservative Action Project is calling on President Donald Trump to veto all bills that include earmarks or could be interpreted to include earmarks.
The reinstatement of earmarks could take back the GOP-controlled Congress to the early 2000s, when Republican lawmakers created an atmosphere of government-sponsored special interest spending—which allowed projects like the “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska and even led to the arrest of GOP Rep. Duke Cunningham, who used earmarks for gifts from lobbyists.
During the peak of earmark spending in the 2000s, as much as $29 billion was spent in one year on special interests. The earmark spending fluctuated throughout the 2000s, while still remaining over $10 billion annually.
The effort to stop the return of earmarks comes on the heels of the House Republicans nearly bringing back this special interest spending late last year. Speaker Paul Ryan stepped in during a closed-door GOP meeting late in 2016 to slow down the effort of Republican congressmen attempting to bring back earmarks.
Per a previous Daily Signal report, two amendments to House rules were proposed to overturn the earmark ban and were about to pass before Ryan asked to wait and hold the meeting in public, rather than behind closed doors.
However, on the other side of Capitol Hill, the Senate Republican Conference voted to maintain its ban on earmarks.