Thursday, May 20, 2010

Republicans plan to restore earmarks if they win control

House Republicans in line to chair important committees want less-stringent earmark spending rules next year, when they hope to be in control of the chamber.

Senior Republicans are pushing for a policy that would allow earmarks, the provisions lawmakers insert in spending bills to fund projects in their districts, but would make the process more transparent. House GOP leaders imposed a temporary moratorium on all earmarks in March in a bid to demonstrate fiscal discipline in an election year.

That moratorium expires at the end of the year, when a new policy will be put in place, said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“It is just a moratorium, it’s not a total ban,” he said.

Mica said it was more important to have a consistent “protocol on what’s acceptable” for earmarks than to have a complete prohibition on them.

Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, has backed the one-year moratorium but has also defended lawmakers’ right to earmark money for specific projects.

Lewis “supports the constitutional authority of Congress — not the president or the executive branch — to craft budgets and determine federal spending,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Hing.

The push to free up earmark powers could put Republican leaders in a tough spot by creating a clash with the party’s earmark hawks.

No comments: