WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Fulcher has taken several recent actions to oppose the return of earmarks-- including signing a pledge to Idahoans not to use earmarks.
These actions are in response to recent efforts by Democrats to reinstate earmarks through a new name: “Community Project Funding.” A majority of Republican members have voiced concerns with the return of this extra spending-- particularly while the 2020 budget deficit stands in the trillions, and over $27 trillion in total national debt.
Joining over 30 US Senators and Congressmembers, Congressman Fulcher first sent a letter to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees to oppose the return of earmarks under the term “member-directed spending.”
On March 17th, Congressman Fulcher sent a second letter with 17 of his Republican colleagues, this time addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The letter is a pledge against requesting earmarked money.
“At any time-- but particularly when we are staring at over $27 trillion in total national debt -- it is plain wrong to suggest adding new ways to spend taxpayer dollars on local pet-projects for certain members or lobbyists. Already, we saw in the recent Biden COVID ‘relief’ package, much of the spending represented special interests and wish list items such as $600 million to Nancy Pelosi’s home of San Francisco, ignoring the specific relief for those struggling during the pandemic. This was done without the earmarks provision, but you can only imagine how quickly this pet-project spending would accrue with the earmark option put back into place,” commented Congressman Fulcher. “I introduced the One Subject At A Time Act to eliminate these massive bills which hide further waste and pet projects. Earmarks intend to do the opposite, and if enacted again, will continue the culture of pork-barrel spending and ‘backroom deals.”
The earmark provision, a part of a large spending bill that allocates money for a specific location, project, or institution, usually within a specific Member’s district, began in the 1990s and quickly accelerated in the 2000s. Discretionary spending, which is allocated by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, allowed the earmark process to provide funds it appropriates to be spent on specific projects. Between 1994 and 2011, earmarks increased by 282% each year to nearly 16,000. Several former Members of Congress have been convicted of crimes related to earmarks including written out “bribe menus” to show how much different levels of earmarks would cost, and using taxpayer funds to pay illegal loans. Lobbyists have also gone to prison due to earmarks for bribing Members with campaign donations, gifts, and trips in order to secure funding. In 2011, Congress banned the process after a poll in 2010 revealed 79% of respondents saw earmarks as “not acceptable” - including 71% of Democrats and 89% of Republicans.