Trump looks to bring back congressional earmarks
National Politics

Trump looks to bring back congressional earmarks


The latest Gallup opinion poll shows that congressional approval ratings is still dismal, as only 17% of Americans believe congress is doing a good job.

Oh boy.

Congressional approval ratings have been hovering around 13% to 21% over the past decade, so no one is surprised with the latest poll numbers.

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The highly unpopular practice of penning congressional earmarks was scrubbed back in 2011, but that may soon change, as House Republicans look to bring the practice back with the support of President Trump.

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Most Americans oppose lifting the earmarks ban, but if the ban is lifted by the Trump-led congress, will it be packaged in a way that appeals to detractors?

Here is what the Brookings Institute says about congressional earmarks:

“Earmarks are small appropriations for specific congressional districts or projects: a research grant, a runway, a post office, almost anything. They are minuscule as a share of the federal budget, but in the 2000s, members of Congress became obsessed with securing them and their number soared. In response to those and other complaints, in the late 2000s earmarks were reformed to be more transparent and merit-based. Nonetheless, in 2011 a strange-bedfellows coalition of anti-spending Tea Partiers and anti-corruption progressives succeeded in banning them altogether.

Most people who favor earmarks emphasize their importance as a form of political currency. Many important congressional votes are controversial and tough; raising the debt limit, for example, is something every member wants to do but no one wants to vote for. By offering to deliver items on members’ wish lists, leaders can use earmarks to corral crucial votes. Political science research has tended to confirm what common sense suggests: in legislating, incentives matter, and earmarks and other forms of pork-barrel spending help leaders to lead by incentivizing followers to follow—whether the goal is liberal or conservative. Anti-spending conservatives who revile earmarks forget that most federal spending is on autopilot, and that efforts to (for example) rein in entitlements, reform regulations, or otherwise reorient government are difficult without legislative lubricant.”

One of the biggest opponents of earmarks is the conservative grassroots group, FreedomWorks, who recently tweeted that earmarks “breed cronyism and wasteful spending.”

Conservative Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, one of President Trump’s strongest supporters in the House, responded to FreedomWorks’ tweet with his own tweet.

Gaetz state that he would “trade earmarks for a balance budget amendment any day of the week.”

While conservatives hate earmarks, drawing up and passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution is something most, if not all, congressional Republicans would agree on, and possible trade earmarks for.


Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning South Florida-based political journalist owns Diverse New Media, Corp. which publishes,,, and He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming and biking. He ran as a Republican in the 2018 congressional primary race in Florida's CD 22. Javier is also a political consultant, and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Learn more at Email him at [email protected]

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