GOP Insiders Not In Favor of Reconsidering Earmark Ban While Democrats Are Split
The last time Congress passed a highway bill was 2005 and it took 6,300 earmarks to do it.
Lawmakers like to say that there's nothing more local than a highway, and with so many local issues at play, not to mention questions about funding, it's proved remarkably hard to get anything passed this year. With the transportation bill currently stalled in Congress, some lawmakers are questioning the pragmatism of the earmark ban. Almost all of these lawmakers, however, are Democrats.
In this week's National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll, the Democrats were split with 56 percent of respondents saying that in light of the transportation bill, the ban on earmarks should be reconsidered. Meanwhile, 96 percent of Republicans said that the earmark ban remains as important as ever.
|In light of the difficulty moving a transportation bill through Congress, should the ban on earmarks be reconsidered?|
"Congressional directed spending is essential for the system to work in these highly partisan times," one Democratic Insider said.
For many Democrats, however, the ban on earmarks seemed like a bad idea before and during the mess with the transportation bill.
"It is a silly ban that transfers power to the executive branch," a Democrat responded.
Or to put it another way: "It's the earmarks, stupid!"
But not all Democrats see this as a time to reconsider pork-barrel spending.
"[I'm] not sure if that's the real problem here," one Democratic Insider said.
On that one point, Republicans seem to agree. And for many Republicans maintaining the earmark ban is the best way to gain back the trust of the American people.
"Earmarks were a distraction, and we haven't regained the public's trust enough to show we can be trusted again," a Republican said.
One Republican went as far as to say that the earmark ban is succeeding in another way: "The ban on earmarks is achieving exactly what Americans want - less spending in Washington."
One member of the Republican Party was willing, however, to say there could be a time and a place for earmarks in the legislative process.
"Only with real reform," the Republican said. "Usefulness in earmarks is not coercing votes for bad bills, it is to retain legislative branch authority."