Boehner Asks Oberstar to Drop All GOP Earmarks From WRDA Bill

Posted May 25, 2010 at 5:46pm

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is asking Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) to disregard all Republican requests for projects in the Water Resources Development Act reauthorization he is drafting — even if the original sponsors have not yet withdrawn their projects.

“Pursuant to adoption if the House Republican Conference Resolution on March 11, 2010, we respectfully withdraw all previous Republican earmark requests … for the Water Resources Development Act,” Boehner and Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member John Mica (R-Fla.) wrote in a letter Tuesday afternoon.

The House Republicans’ self-imposed yearlong earmark moratorium bars all earmarks — including those that are programmatic or authorizing requests.

In preparation for a new WRDA bill, 354 House Members — including 120 Republicans — submitted project requests to the committee last summer. On May 13, Oberstar sent letters to 116 Republicans asking whether he should disregard their requests for projects in the Water Resources Development Act. Oberstar said at the time he had not yet received withdrawal letters from most Republicans, though GOP staff said Mica had collected withdrawal letters from all but a few of his colleagues.

The WRDA bill includes projects such as dam and levee replacements, beach replenishment, drainage upgrades and water treatment facilities. Committee staff said this spring that there were about 5,000 Democratic project requests and about 1,500 Republican project requests submitted overall.

The Boehner/ Mica letter comes a week after Boehner warned the conference that Members who fail to remove their earmark requests from the bill risk losing their committee assignments next year.

“If you don’t withdraw your requests, it will be a matter for the Steering Committee to consider,” the Ohio Republican told Members during a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference last week, according to several GOP sources inside the room.

The House Republican Steering Committee is charged with assigning committee posts.

Only a handful of Republican Members have said they will submit requests for earmarks despite the ban and have filed earmark requests with the House Appropriations Committee — including Reps. Anh “Joseph” Cao (La.), Henry Brown (S.C.), Don Young (Alaska) and Ron Paul (Texas).

Paul Singer contributed to this report.