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Minnick Calls on House Leadership for Permanent End to For-Profit Earmarks

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Walt Minnick joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to House leadership calling for a permanent ban on for-profit earmarks.

"We need a permanent ban on all earmarks, but taking this interim step will show that the House is serious about fiscal responsibility," Minnick said. "If government is going to stop running up the deficit, the unchecked spending must stop."

The letter to leadership, also signed by Reps. Flake, Hensarling, and Campbell, specifically asks to make permanent the ban on for-profit companies to receive earmarks. Earlier this year, Chairman Obey stated that no for-profit entities could submit for federal appropriations dollars.

Minnick also introduced a resolution to ban all earmarks in March of this year. H. Res. 1177 calls for an end to all earmarks. He is one of only four people in his caucus who refuse to submit earmark requests.

More Information on 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.

What are earmarks?

OMB defines "earmarks" as "funds provided by the Congress for projects, programs, or grants where the purported congressional direction (whether in statutory text, report language, or other communication) circumvents otherwise applicable merit-based or competitive allocation processes, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the executive branch to manage its statutory and constitutional responsibilities pertaining to the funds allocation process."

But the fact is that, on occasion, earmarks have been used as a vehicle for waste, and fraud, and abuse. Projects have been inserted at the 11th hour, without review, and sometimes without merit, in order to satisfy the political or personal agendas of a given legislator, rather than the public interest. There are times where earmarks may be good on their own, but, in the context of a tight budget, might not be our highest priority. So these practices hit their peak in the middle of this decade, when the number of earmarks had ballooned to more than 16,000, and played a part in a series of corruption cases.

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