GOP freshmen learning value of earmarks

May 2, 2012 at 3:05 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- House Republicans serving their first term in office are having a hard time sending bacon back to their districts without the use of earmarks, analysts said.

The ban on earmarks sought by Republican freshmen when they swept into office two years ago has made it hard to get larger legislation, such as the highway bill, through Congress, and lawmakers have struggled to find ways to fund local projects back home that make constituents happy, Politico reported Wednesday.

Politico said lawmakers such as New York Reps. Michael Grimm and Ann Marie Buerkle are lobbying for local road projects, while Florida Rep. Allen West is touting a grant for runway construction at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has said earmarks, which allocate a specified amount of money for a specific project, shouldn't count when they're for transportation projects. Veteran Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.V., has publicly asked Transportation Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., to join him in calling for a return to earmarks, Politico said.

Some freshman lawmakers, however, say the lack of earmarks is still a good thing.

"There's no question that the lack of earmarks makes it more difficult to pass legislation, and that's probably a good thing," Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., was quoted as saying. "With an abundance of earmarks, more people are happy, but the American people get a bigger bill. The truth is while lawmaking is more painful and slower-moving without earmarks, it's probably in the best interest of our country for the long term."

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