Capitol Correspondence - 04.21.21

Senate GOP to Vote on Whether to Allow Earmarks in Senate – What This Means for Providers

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ANCOR is keeping our members abreast of the congressional conversation surrounding earmarks because they could present opportunities to fund Medicaid disability providers’ efforts to support people with disabilities. See our article on the opportunities presented by earmarks. As reported by Politico Pro:

“The Senate GOP will vote Wednesday on whether to reinstate earmarks, which were first banned in 2010 after conservatives turned against directing money to projects like the notorious ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ in Ketchikan, Alaska,” Politico Pro reports.

House Democrats have already voted to bring back the practice, With Democrats planning to revive earmarks now that they control Congress, Republicans have wrestled over whether they should take advantage of the spending practice. House Republicans faced a similar internal debate, but ultimately voted in a 102-84 secret ballot to embrace earmarks as long as certain criteria are met.

Republicans’ ban on earmarks is one of the last vestiges of the tea party era, and some are reluctant to dispose of the prohibition in the post-Trump GOP. Critics argue that the practice is ripe for abuse and would only lead to “pork-barrel” spending. They also contend that it would be politically unwise to hand Democratic leaders a useful tool to corral gettable Republican votes on major bills, especially given the narrow majorities held by President Joe Biden’s party.

But other Republicans contend that they would be at a huge disadvantage if they decided not to earmark while Democrats reaped the rewards of the spending practice. Allowing lawmakers to ensure money for specific projects, those GOP lawmakers say, would restore power to the legislative branch and shift it away from the Biden administration. Earmarks proponents further note that if Republicans don’t want to participate, they don’t have to — lifting the ban would only open up the option for GOP senators, not require them to.”