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Sens. Cruz, Daines, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Permanently Ban Earmarks

March 1, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz today joined Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) in introducing legislation to permanently ban earmarks. Sens. Pat Toomey (Penn.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wisc.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Rand Paul (Ky.) cosponsored the bill.

Upon introduction, Sen. Cruz said:

"Bringing back earmarks would overturn one of the most significant conservative victories to end the practice of inserting special interest pork to pass irresponsible and bloated spending bills. The widespread practice of earmarks corrupted the legislative process and banning them was a crucial step towards restoring public trust in Congress. I am proud to help lead the fight to ban earmarks because Congress should be focused on restoring fiscal sanity, not bringing home the bacon."

Sen. Daines said:

"Earmarks do nothing but add to the toxic, swampy culture that DC's known for. These back-room deals promote pay-for-play behavior that make lobbyists rich on the taxpayer's dime. It's time we get rid of earmarks once and for all."

Sen. Toomey said:

"Earmarks allow lobbyists and politicians to belly up to the pork barrel buffet in order to fund pet projects that are based on politics and favors instead of merit. Going back down this road will only fuel more overspending and further undermine the legislative process."

Sen. Ernst said:

"A return to the ham-fisted tactic of individual earmarks would be a win for Washington special interests and lobbyists and a loss for hardworking Iowa taxpayers. There's no reason to go back to the old days of politicians pigging out on taxpayer dollars-earmarking millions for their own pet projects, like the infamous bridge to nowhere in Alaska. It's past time to permanently ban the bacon from the legislative process, and finally put an end to one of Washington's swampiest traditions."

Sen. Lankford said:

"When Oklahomans send their hard-earned tax dollars to Washington, DC, they deserve for them to be spent wisely, not used to fund other states' pet projects, like a bridge to nowhere or a traffic light in a powerful lawmaker's hometown. We should focus on doing what is best for every American, not making life easier for elected officials. I'm glad to introduce the Earmark Elimination Act to ensure we do not return to the days where federal spending bills were all-you-can-eat pork buffets."

Sen. Lee said:

"Banning earmarks in 2011 was the first step in reforming Congress's dysfunctional budget process. Much more work needs to be done, but backsliding into the corrupt and corrupting earmarks racket should not be an option."

Sen. Paul said:

"Lifting the ban on earmarks is exactly the kind of thinking that is bankrupting our nation. We must continue to forbid these unauthorized appropriations that have led to millions of tax dollars being funneled through backdoor deals and then parachuted in in the dead of night. It's deceitful legislation like this that has caused the American public to lose faith in their government."

Sen. Rubio said:

"For decades, Congress abused the trust and faith of the American people by handing out earmarks to well-connected businesses, campaign donors, and others who could afford a high-priced lobbyist. Those backroom deals led to corruption and waste, and bought votes in Congress for unpopular legislation. We cannot go back to those days, which is why I am proud to join Senator Daines in this effort to ban earmarks once and for all."

Sen. Johnson added:

"Earmarks represent some of the worst of Washington's waste. This legislation will help make sure taxpayers hard-earned money is not spent on politicians' pet projects and other boondoggles that only further Washington's corruption."

Read the full text of the bill here.

BACKGROUND

Earmarks are a way to direct discretionary funds to specific recipients without going through a merit-based or competitive allocation process.

In 2019, the Republican controlled Senate banned earmarks. This legislation follows reports that Democrats will bring back this practice now that they are in control of the House and the Senate.

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