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Bipartisan bill would permanently ban earmarks

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced a bipartisan bill W...

Posted: Jan 25, 2018 11:53 AM
Updated: Jan 25, 2018 11:53 AM

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced a bipartisan bill Wednesday to permanently eliminate earmarks, a system of spending in Congress that allows funds for a specific purpose to be drawn into a larger federal spending bill.

"The swampiest of swamp creatures is what earmarks are," McCaskill said. She noted earmarks are not based on merit and there's no cost-benefit analysis.

President Donald Trump has voiced his support for bringing back earmarks

While they're already banned, lawmakers want to make that permanent

"It's who you are, who you know and what lobbyist you hired," she said. "I see sprinkling fairy dust in a back room and overruling local and state planning."

The senators came together to make the point that Congress can work in a bipartisan manner without receiving incentives in the form of earmarks.

"It doesn't take 'pork' in the traditional sense, in the congressional sense, to sit us down at a lunch," Flake said.

President Donald Trump surprised lawmakers earlier this month when he praised the system of congressional directives often referred to as pork-barrel spending. The Republican-controlled Congress banned earmarks in 2011 at the charge of then-Speaker of the House John Boehner. The call for more permanent earmark legislation comes after the House Rules Committee announced plans last week to revisit talks and bring back a reformed version of the spending allocation system.

RELATED: 'Crazy talk' vs. 'Smart': Lawmakers split over Trump's earmark proposal

The event, which played heavily on the "pork" theme, left room for plenty of jibes and hog-flavored witticisms. The senators held up bibs that read, "Stick a fork in Congressional Pork," sitting before plates of ribs and coleslaw at a picnic-cloth covered table, complete with a paper pig centerpiece and Missouri's Arthur Bryant's Barbeque Sauce -- McCaskill's "fave," she pointed out.

Advocates for earmarks argue that they create opportunities to fund neglected services or projects outside Washington. McCaskill disputed the claim that earmarks are part of Congress' power of purse, saying as she pointed to her plate of barbecue ribs that it is "such, pardon the expression, hogwash."

Flake cited several examples of what he called egregious earmarking, including funds allocated for a Buffalo Theater ("I didn't know buffaloes could act!" he joked) and the more well-known "Bridge to Nowhere," a bridge constructed in Alaska to a tiny island that had a population of 50 at the time. Flake said earmarks are not only wasteful but also corrupt and that he hopes to end the system with the introduction of this bipartisan Earmark Elimination Act.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751526

Reported Deaths: 13799
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033281788
Lake557151010
Allen41710692
St. Joseph36998565
Hamilton36604417
Elkhart29413461
Tippecanoe22914227
Vanderburgh22559400
Porter19359326
Johnson18477389
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Clark13228195
Madison13158344
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Warrick7860156
Floyd7812180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6972103
Morgan6765141
Dubois6221118
Marshall6211116
Cass6017110
Henry5902110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509176
Shelby501796
Lawrence4745122
Gibson445094
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Brown104243
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Warren84015
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Union72810
Ohio57911
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109025

Reported Deaths: 20166
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1287651467
Cuyahoga1158292211
Hamilton814131250
Montgomery525601043
Summit484401001
Lucas43364820
Butler39021606
Stark33339929
Lorain25679505
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Mahoning22378603
Lake21213388
Clermont20125253
Delaware18860136
Licking16664222
Fairfield16577204
Trumbull16555482
Medina15613271
Greene15284248
Clark14237306
Wood13293200
Portage13251215
Allen11914239
Richland11608211
Miami10850225
Wayne9147223
Columbiana9036230
Muskingum8907135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8651250
Marion8646138
Erie8057165
Ashtabula7162179
Hancock6999132
Ross6946161
Geauga6841151
Scioto6536106
Belmont6159174
Union584649
Lawrence5734102
Jefferson5680158
Huron5547122
Sandusky5443126
Darke5420129
Seneca5349128
Washington5320109
Athens524360
Auglaize502287
Mercer487385
Shelby476895
Knox4572112
Madison444466
Ashland435797
Putnam4336103
Defiance432399
Fulton432174
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Brown402461
Logan387677
Preble3856105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373681
Highland359865
Williams348278
Champaign344859
Guernsey325153
Jackson318254
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285550
Hardin275465
Henry273467
Holmes2703101
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Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220563
Carroll197348
Paulding176542
Meigs148540
Monroe136344
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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