Earmarks, also called pork barrel spending, are banned from the federal budget, but Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense says something that looks a lot like earmarks is back.
After years of deadlock, the $1.1 trillion budget bill won broad bipartisan support in the House, passing 359 to 67. The Senate is expected to pass it tomorrow.
As the Associate Press put it, there are "compromises on almost every one of the bill's 1,582 pages." And there is something else. Money for projects that lawmakers are happy to take credit for back home.
Republican Senator Jerry Moran is claiming some credit for $404 million for a facility in his home state of Kansas to study foreign animal disease outbreaks. And three Democratic Representatives from California are taking some credit for money to expand a border crossing in San Diego
Technically, earmarks were banned in 2010, but as Senator John McCain, a long-time opponent said yesterday, "unfortunately pork barrel seems to be back in vogue."
While there is a lot of debate about whether the provisions in this bill are earmarks, Ellis told Reuters, "they're earmark-ish, they're earmark-esque."
Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, also a longtime opponent of earmarks, told Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson that while "earmarks sometimes grease the skids for bills to get through," the practice is not as important as people think. Senator Flake says the problem is not nearly as big as it was in 2005 and 2006, "where it was highly corrupting and hugely wasteful."
This segment aired on January 16, 2014.