House Appropriations candidates float possible return of earmarks

Lawmakers’ ability to set aside funding for home-state projects in spending bills could return next year if at least two of the three declared candidates for the House Appropriations gavel have their way.

Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida have each committed to bringing back earmarks if chosen as the Appropriations Committee’s top Democrat after the November elections. A third candidate, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, didn’t embrace that stance but didn’t rule it out, saying it was “premature” to discuss restoring earmarks at this stage.

“It’s something the entire caucus — including newly elected members — want to be involved in after the election,” DeLauro said in a statement. “I look forward to hearing the views of all my colleagues as we review the current policy.”

The issue remains complicated even though the House has steadily moved away from the earmarks ban former Speaker John A. Boehner first instituted nearly a decade ago, when he promised to rein in government spending and restore trust in Congress after several earmarking-related scandals. The Senate, controlled by Democrats at the time who didn’t want to be outflanked on “good government” issues, quickly followed suit.

During the ensuing years, Democrats and Republicans, especially those on the appropriations committees, have grown more vocal with complaints that the ban erodes Congress’ constitutional authority over government spending.

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