One of the not-so-hallowed longtime traditions of Washington D.C. may be making a comeback soon. Earmarks...or legislative earmarks, also known as "pork" or "logrolling." That is when money in a piece of legislation is specifically allocated or "earmarked" for a spending project that has nothing to do with the overall bill. It has been used for decades as a means for members of Congress to get projects and priorities back in their home districts tucked into larger spending bills, hence the nickname "pork."
Back in 2011, the Republican-led Congress fulfilled a campaign promise by banning earmarks, but since then they have still managed to survive in other forms. And the moratorium has certainly done nothing to curb wasteful spending, as evidenced by the massive so-called COVID Relief bill now making its way through Congress. Now, Democrats in control of Congress want to eliminate the ban on earmarks, and some Republicans want to join them.
Texas-based Republican Strategist Vlad Davidiuk thinks this is a terrible idea. "Pork spending and earmarks, more than anything, are a gateway drug for Congress toward unlimited corruption, and Republicans should not be supportive of earmarks," he tells KTRH.
Some Republicans argue they have to use earmarks if the Democrats are doing it, or they will be at a disadvantage. Davidiuk disagrees. "Putting earmarks in would just make the job of Nancy Pelosi that much easier," he says. "Because she's going to make sure all of her vulnerable Democrats have some really good projects going to their districts that they can point to during their campaign."
Regardless of any financial disadvantage, Davidiuk believes Republicans would benefit more politically by staying away from earmarks. "Earmarks and pork feed the swamp, if you really want to get down to it," he says. "It makes the swamp not only grow, it makes the swamp deeper. Because the easier it becomes for you to buy taxpayer votes by using (taxpayers') own money, the longer we're going to have these people stay in Washington."