Anti-Pork Senators Warn of Potential Return of Earmarks

Flake, McCaskill and company again call for action on legislation to formally ban practice

Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., held an event in January to demonstrate that Congress can “eat pork without spending it.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., held an event in January to demonstrate that Congress can “eat pork without spending it.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted October 22, 2018 at 4:34pm

A bipartisan group of senators critical of pork-barrel spending is again warning about the possible return of congressional earmarks.

The contingent of persistent critics of the earmarking process warned about talk of the return of the practice in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Vice Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont.

“The pay-to-play nature of earmarks encourages the worst behavior and no amount of transparency can fix the inherent unfairness in the earmark process, which favors those with the resources to hire a politically-connected lobbyist rather than those with the greatest need or merit,” wrote 10 senators led by led by GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

McCaskill was the only member of the Democratic caucus to sign on to the letter. Flake and McCaskill led the unveiling of legislation in January designed to outlaw earmarking, which is currently not used during the appropriations process due to House and Senate moratoriums.

The measure would create an enforceable point-of-order against earmarks. Flake and McCaskill launched that effort at an event featuring some real pork, a sight gag showing that one could eat pork without spending it. 

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