House GOP members eye end of earmark ban

May 18, 2012 at 11:16 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- A group of Republicans say they're mapping a strategy to lift the U.S. House ban on earmarks early next year.

Conservative Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, is the latest GOP lawmaker to publicly push against the ban advocated by House Speaker John Boehner and formally adopted when Republicans took control of the House in 2011, The Hill reported Friday.

Culberson, chairman of a military-construction appropriations subcommittee, said he was frustrated because he can't expedite the expansion of a governmental military facility in Ohio, now slated for 2016.

"In light of new security threats to our country and our allies, expansion of [the Foreign Materials Exploitation Lab] is desperately needed now," Culberson told The Hill. "And because of the earmark ban, I can't move it … it's just nuts."

Several weeks ago, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama told party leaders during a GOP conference meeting a majority of members wants earmarks to return.

"What I would like to see happen is a situation where we can't advocate for private company and for-profit [companies]. But if it's a state, county or local government in our district, we should be able to advocate for a project that is beyond the scope of what they can do and need federal partnership," Rogers told The Hill. "I think you are going to see a lot of members advocating for [that arrangement]. Because right now we are prohibited from advocating for anything for our states."

Boehner's communication director, Kevin Smith, said, "We have an earmark ban in place and there are no plans to change it."

In the Senate, the matter hasn't been raised much in the Republican Conference, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi said.

However, asked whether he thinks the earmark ban is temporary, Cochran said, "Yes."

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