Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick has decided to make permanent a pledge he made in 2009, refusing participation in the Congressional earmark appropriations process.
"The unambiguous lesson of November 2008 and of last week's election is that the American people want Congress to spend less money, and want us to approach major issues in an independent way. One significant step I can take to show I am serious about heeding those lessons is to refuse earmarks," Minnick said. "The American people want to change the way Washington does business. We want a bipartisan approach that begins in the middle. We want more elected officials with the courage put constituents and fiscal responsibility before politics. And we want the battles and bickering to end, so that all of us can get down to the business of renewing and restoring America."
Minnick is one of three Democrats and 37 Republicans who refuse earmarks. However, during his first year in office Minnick has been able to serve his constituents and bring home much-needed federal funding for Idaho's First Congressional district. Whether it was helping the Payette Fire Department with a construction grant, assisting a Meridian business with a federal loan for manufacturing shot guns, championing a funding request from a rural education program or a recent announcement of $14 million for Idaho forests, Minnick has gotten the job done without seeking earmarks.
According to the Citizens Against Government Waste, there were 10,160 earmarks worth $19.6 billion in the 2009 appropriations bills. Minnick said in 2009 that he would refuse to participate in the earmark process due to the need for fiscal restraint in Washington, D.C, and says now that the ballooning federal deficit and difficult economy require even more fiscal discipline by Congress.
"We need to permanently change the earmark process and show the American people that we are committed to spending their money in a way that serves the best interests of the country," Minnick said. "But that is only one step toward putting our country back on the track to fiscal health. We need a Constitutional amendment requiring Congress to balance the budget. We need a commission process that will force politicians to make the tough choices to fix the grave financial problems in entitlement programs. And we need to impose mandatory "pay as you go' rules to make sure that Congress spends not one penny that's borrowed from our children and grandchildren."