Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) today introduced S. 2370, the Orphan Earmarks Act, to eliminate unused earmarks within the Department of Transportation (DOT). The bill would void earmarks of funds provided by DOT that have 90 percent or more remaining after 10 fiscal years as well as require DOT to submit an annual report on each project that uses earmarked funds and which funds remain available at the end of each fiscal year.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) found that continuing to fund unused earmarks results in an enormous amount of wasteful and unnecessary spending. According to CRS, "Even if Congress did not intend the grantees to have decades to decide whether to implement the projects, there is no budgetary mechanism to call attention to projects that are extremely delayed or to reallocate funding from inactive projects. As a result, some amount of budgetary authority that states could otherwise use to address current transportation needs is not available for that purpose."
"Dollars for earmarks that have been orphaned for more than a decade are either unnecessary, or are dollars that could have been used to repair roads and our nation's 63,000 structurally deficient bridges. This common-sense proposal will force Congress to set real priorities and save taxpayers millions of dollars," Dr. Coburn said.
"I have made it a top priority since joining the Senate to safeguard taxpayer dollars and put an end to the wasteful practice of earmarking," McCaskill said. "Our country is facing an infrastructure crisis, and this bill could help chip away at that crisis by redirecting these orphaned funds, allowing us to invest in our roads and bridges, grow our economy, and create jobs throughout the country."
Eliminating waste within federal agencies should be a top priority for Congress as it looks for commonsense and bipartisan ways to reduce federal spending, increase government efficiency, and eliminate unnecessary duplication.