Sen. Pat Toomey Moves To Ban Earmarks Permanently

Chambersburg Public Opinion

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., have reintroduced legislation to permanently ban congressional earmarks.

The process permits members of Congress to direct taxpayer funds to their home regions for questionable projects without any hearings or scrutiny, according to Toomey. The bipartisan Earmark Elimination Act would expand the temporary moratorium and permanently ban earmarks from the legislative process.

“Now is the time to pass a permanent ban on earmarks,” 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.”

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,” according to Toomey.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, has supported congressional earmarks, which he currently terms “congressional directive funding.” Shuster had been successful in earmarking money in the federal budget for transportation, sewer, water and military projects in the 9th District, which includes Franklin County. As late as June,

Shuster said in public that he would continue to work to secure earmarks.

Toomey and McCaskill led the charge two years ago to rein in earmarks, resulting in the temporary, two-year moratorium.

“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,” McCaskill said.

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.

Citizens Against Government Waste, the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, FreedomWorks, and Ending Spending Inc. support the bill.

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