U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) reintroduced legislation today to ban a process that, for years, permitted members of Congress to direct taxpayer funds to their home regions for questionable projects without any hearings or scrutiny. Thanks in part to the efforts of Sens. Toomey and McCaskill to end the practice, the previous Congress instituted a voluntary moratorium on earmarks. The bipartisan Earmark Elimination Act would expand the temporary moratorium on earmarks and permanently ban earmarks from the legislative process.
Unfortunately, a number of congressional members are reluctant to end the wasteful earmarking process that forced taxpayers to fund such pet projects as the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere."
The Earmark Elimination Act would:
· Permanently ban all earmarks.
· Define earmarks as any congressionally directed spending item, limited tax benefit, or limited tariff benefit.
· Create a point of order against any legislation containing an earmark. The point of order would only apply to the actual earmark, rather than to the entire bill.
· Require a two-thirds vote to waive the point of order.
Senators Toomey and McCaskill's bill is supported by Citizens Against Government Waste, the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, FreedomWorks, and Ending Spending, Inc.
"Now is the time to pass a permanent ban on earmarks," Sen. Toomey said. "For years, earmarks played a significant role in fueling the overspending in Washington, currying favor with lobbyists and special interests, and undermining the integrity of our legislative process. My colleagues in Congress cannot credibly talk about cleaning up Washington if we do not get rid of earmarking for good. We cannot afford to allow Congress to resume this practice and play pork-barrel politics with taxpayer dollars."
Said Sen. McCaskill, "In my fight against pork-barrel spending on pet projects by Congress, we've made a lot of progress. We're changing the culture of Congress to one where members are judged based on how much taxpayer money they save, not how much they spend. Now, while we're focused on cutting wasteful spending, is the time to make our temporary ban on earmarks a permanent ban on earmarks and guard against the return of this practice."
Sens. Toomey and McCaskill are no strangers to the fight against wasteful earmarks. They led the charge two years ago to rein in earmarks, resulting in a temporary, two-year moratorium. Today, they are continuing to champion this cause on behalf of American taxpayers as they seek to eliminate earmarks for good.