DesJarlais: If earmarks are restored, ‘I can be more of a spokesman for the people’

Even some conservatives – including Tennessee’s U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais — seem open to return to earmarks since President Trump floated the idea, reports The Hill.

But don’t call them earmarks: lawmakers say they’re in favor of “congressionally directed spending.”

In a sign of the changing attitudes on Capitol Hill, conservatives are divided on whether to reverse the earmark ban in place since Republicans took over the House majority after the 2010 midterm elections.

Conservative leaders like House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) reject the idea, warning that allowing lawmakers to carve out spending for projects specifically designed to benefit their districts would undercut Trump’s “drain the swamp” message.

…But even some Freedom Caucus members sound open to a return to earmarks ahead of House Rules Committee hearings next week on whether to revive the practice.

“I don’t know that I’m opposed to it,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a Freedom Caucus member, told The Hill. “We’re spending more money than ever and it’s still going out, but it doesn’t seem to come to my district.”

If earmarks were restored, “I can be more of a spokesman for the people in Tennessee who need it,” DesJarlais continued. “There is an overpass in Rutherford County that we need to get funding for. We’ve got things up in Nashville, the Percy Priest Reservoir … so yeah, I would like to have a better voice.

“I don’t know if earmarks is the answer. I’ve never had them, so I don’t know if it’s good or not.”

Other conservatives also expressed openness to allowing earmarks or something similar, saying that ensuring money for specific projects would give the legislative branch more power.

… Trump said at a White House meeting with roughly two dozen lawmakers on Tuesday that Congress should consider allowing earmarks again.

He suggested that doing so would allow Congress to function better, lamenting that the “levels of hatred” among Republicans and Democrats are “out of control.”

“Maybe we should think about it,” Trump said. “Maybe all of you should think about going back to a form of earmarks. You should do it.”

“We have to put better controls because it got a little out of hand, but that brings people together,” Trump added.

3 Responses to DesJarlais: If earmarks are restored, ‘I can be more of a spokesman for the people’

  • Lance Persson says:

    I think we all need to understand earmarks before we go bringing them back. I can say that I don’t know much about them but I have been under the understanding that they were NOT a good thing.

    It would seem to be better to limit the size of the bills that get voted on and allow the president to have a line item video. This would allow congress to override any line item vetoed with a ⅔’s majority vote by congress.

    I trust Scott DesJarlais based on his past voting record. If he says it is worth looking at it again then I can support doing that. Voters just need to understand in common terms the pros and the cons of going back to it.

  • Preston MacDougall says:

    So much for Tea Party “principles”.

  • Norma Shirk says:

    The real problem with earmarks is that it’s pork barrel patronage at it’s worst. In other words, it contributes to the corruption of the politicians by enhancing the power of lobbyists who represent the wealthy and connected. Ultimately it undermines democracy.

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