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Earmark Advocates Skeptical of Ban

“Congress would be giving up their power and control for no reason,” said Michael Herson, head of American Defense International. “In the middle of a recession with nearly 10 percent unemployment, is a Member going to say, ‘I am not bringing money and projects back to the district, but please send me back’?”

Further, Herson said the argument by Members of Congress that it would save taxpayer cash is incorrect because the money is still part of the budget.

This isn’t the first time the House has threatened to close the earmark spigot. In 2007, most of the appropriations bills were stripped of nearly all Congressionally requested earmarks.

But that doesn’t mean those “earmarks” went away, according to lobbyists. That year, Members and the lobbyists who push for funding projects on behalf of clients turned their attention to federal agencies.

Bill Allison of the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for government transparency, said that kind of activity is exactly why earmarks should remain in appropriations bills.

“The dangerous earmarkers are those going underground,” Allison said. “The real solution is to make them transparent.”

Instead of banning earmarks, Allison said Congress should focus on creating a centralized place for the public to see who is requesting earmarks and an easily navigable process for following an earmark from start to finish.

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