House appropriators announced Wednesday morning that they would reject all earmark requests that benefit for-profit companies.We dont want for-profits involved, Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said after meeting with House Democratic leadership. It means there will be 1,000 fewer earmarks.Obey said he would hope that the policy would break the appearance of a link between campaign contributions and earmarks.But, he said, You will never break totally the appearance of a possibility of a nexus as long as the Congress doesnt pass campaign finance reform legislation.Many of those earmarks have been for defense-related firms.The move comes a week after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) floated the idea of a total ban on earmarks. It also comes as GOP lawmakers consider a yearlong ban of their own.Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that his Members would convene a special meeting Thursday to talk about the possibility of a Conference-wide earmark moratorium.Im talking about a real moratorium, Boehner said. Theres no way to be half pregnant on this issue.Under the Democratic proposal, the Appropriations panel will also require audits of at least 5 percent of all earmarks directed to nonprofit entities. This new measure is to ensure that earmarks go to their intended purposes and prevent for-profits from masquerading as nonprofits, said a joint statement from Obey and incoming Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman Norm Dicks (D-Wash.).In lieu of earmarks, Obey and Dicks said they would set up a new program to be run by the Defense Department that will fund projects that could go to for-profit businesses, particularly startups.Obey said that the new policy was not intended to be a one-year experiment but a long-term practice.The vast majority of earmarks, however, already go to nonprofits and would not be affected.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.