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Capitol Correspondence - 01.28.19

Congress Could Massively Change How It Works – Earmarks Might Return

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ANCOR is sharing the article below by The Hill because bringing back legislative earmarks could deeply change the way Congress develops legislation, including on issues affecting people with I/DD and providers. This would in turn influence how providers advocate.

But first, a definition… An earmark can be generally described as a bill that directs federal funds towards a “specific project, program or organization” – though Congressional rules do not specifically define the term.

Now, to return to why ANCOR thinks you should read about this: should earmarks return it could change who the power players in Congress are, create new means and opportunities to reach advocacy goals, and create new challenges including increasing the “wild card” factor of competing interests in Congress. All of this speaks to some of the most fundamental aspects of advocacy, which naturally makes earmarks a topic with complex pros and cons. In a nutshell, it gives members of Congress a powerful currency which works across both sides of the aisle, but which comes with the potential for abuse and disparities. Because the return of earmarks could represent a sea-change in the political tone and policy landscape, ANCOR will be monitoring this development and keep members informed.

As written in the article:

“With Democrats back in control of the House after eight years of Republican control, there is strong support for reviving earmarks — the power to direct money on pet projects — which caused a major scandal in Congress during the George W. Bush years.

Senate and House lawmakers from both parties predict there will be a serious push to bring back earmarks once the government shutdown is finally over — with one exception.

Earmarks is a dirty word, so if the specially allocated funds return, they will be referred to as ‘congressionally directed spending.’

Support for bringing back earmarks is not unanimous, but it is growing in both parties as Republicans and Democrats alike say too much power has shifted to the presidency.


House Republican leadership considered ending the earmark ban at the beginning of 2018 but ultimately decided not to.”