Opinion: It’s time to lift the congressional earmarks ban but with strong safeguards

(MGN Online) 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Boris Epshteyn formerly served as a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - It is no secret that bipartisanship is hard to come by in Congress. That is why it was refreshing that members of the House of Representatives from both parties took a break from gridlock on Wednesday and agreed on something, even if that something is “specific spending,” otherwise known as earmarks.

Earmarks are funding provisions in a bill which benefit a particular member’s home district or, in the case of the Senate, home state.

Earmarks were banned starting in 2011.

Since the ban was implemented, however, earmark spending has actually crept back in and slowly increased.

Twelve members testified in front of the House Rules Committee about bringing back earmarks. The majority, representing both parties, pointed to the benefits of earmarks while making it clear that safeguards are necessary.

The argument against earmarks boils down to irresponsible spending and corruption.

The arguments for ending the ban on “congressionally directed spending” are; they help Republicans and Democrats work together. They keep the power of the purse in Congress instead of causing for members to lobby the executive branch for money toward specific projects and they help economically disadvantaged districts by giving their representatives the ability to direct funding to those districts.

Here is the bottom line, no matter what they are called, earmarks cannot be allowed to become a runaway gravy train. What would make sense is to lift the ban, but set a limit on specific spending on earmarks, such as 1% or less of the federal budget. Complete transparency of who is requesting an earmark and what it is being spent on should be absolutely required.

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