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BPC's Grumet on Congress Reinstituting Earmarks

Washington, DC – The following is a statement from Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, on reports the House and Senate Appropriations Committee chairs intend to reinstitute the use of earmarks in the form of Community Project Funding:

“BPC has long argued that Congress should reclaim earmarks as a legitimate legislative tool, and we’re hopeful today’s announcement will lead to an even more bipartisan, transparent, and deliberative process that can regain the public trust.

“Banning the practice a decade ago, rather than reforming it, was an overreaction that diminished Congress’ ability to solve hard problems. The give and take that is essential to overcoming differences is impossible if there is nothing to either give or take.

“Directing resources toward constituent priorities is a constitutional prerogative for members, not a begrudging ‘skid greasing’ to be done in the shadows. It is an embodiment of the power of the purse established in the Constitution, and a core aspect of our democratic design.

“Further, agency budgeting is a zero-sum game. The choice is between agencies controlling 100% of the specific funding decisions or 99%. Even in their heyday, earmarks accounted for roughly 1% of total federal discretionary spending.

“Important reforms were made by the House and Senate in 2007, and today’s announcement builds on the 2020 bipartisan recommendations from the House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Without the efforts of this committee and its co-chairs Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and former Rep. Tom Graves, it’s difficult to imagine Congress could have arrived at this juncture.

“It is now incumbent upon members of both parties to demonstrate they can use Community Project Funding responsibly and productively.”