Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) and Congressman Jeff Flake (AZ-06) today introduced the Earmark Elimination Act of 2011, H.R. 3707, which would ban earmarks permanently.
The Earmark Elimination Act would eliminate earmarks permanently from the legislative process. It would prohibit the House from considering legislation containing earmarks, and would strip any earmarks found in legislation being considered by the House before it may proceed.
"I've called for an end to earmarks for years. Americans know their tax dollars are being wasted, and it's about time my colleagues got serious about reform," Cooper said.
An earmark is a directed spending item, limited tax benefit, or limited tariff benefit that is targeted to a specific entity. Currently, there is only a temporary moratorium on earmarks, which expires at the end of the 112th Congress in Jan. 2013.
"This legislation is the next step to ensuring that earmarks are permanently banned," said Flake. "If Congress can't stop earmarking, taxpayers will have no confidence that Congress can tackle larger spending items and get our fiscal crisis under control."
Cooper has foregone earmark requests since 2008, supporting a Congress-wide moratorium and bipartisan review of directed spending. Last week, he introduced the No Budget, No Pay Act (H.R. 3643) to stop congressional pay if Congress fails to pass its budgeted appropriations bills on time.
The Earmark Elimination Act was introduced in the Senate (S. 1930) by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).