‘Fix Congress Committee’ launches framework for earmark revival

Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida have each committed to bringing back earmarks if chosen to succeed retiring Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey 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.

Under the Modernization panel’s proposal, the grant program framework would only be possible if larger deficiencies in the budget and appropriations process are solved along the way, because grant projects wouldn’t be allowed in continuing resolutions.

The select committee isn’t the first to set out with the agenda to fix the dysfunctional budget and spending process in Congress, but it has made it further than its predecessor.

The 115th Congress established the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, a bicameral, bipartisan committee with the aim of proposing significant changes to fix what many called a broken budget process. But at the last moment, the panel was unable to reach consensus and ended up approving no recommendations.

Kilmer, who served on the failed joint committee, saw an opportunity for the Modernization panel to harvest knowledge, ideas and insights from its predecessor. The joint panel’s co-chairs, Lowey and Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., testified before a Modernization panel hearing, and Kilmer said the pair provided a starting point for approaching a revamp of the budget and spending process.