Oppose H. Res. 313

October 12, 2017

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative,

On behalf of the more than one million members and supporters of CCAGW, I urge you not to co-sponsor H. Res. 313, the Responsible Environmental Preservation and American Infrastructure Restoration (REPAIR) Resolution.

By re-sending his Dear Colleague email requesting co-sponsors for his legislation, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) is exploiting the death and destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to promote the corrupt, unfair, and sordid practice of earmarking. 

He claims that the “exception” to earmarks would be solely related to Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation projects (which have nothing to do with the damage caused by these events).  But his true motive, as revealed in his May 4, 2017 press release, is to increase funding for projects in his congressional district.  Rep. Rooney is a member of the Appropriations Committee; his projects will be first in line for these “exceptional” earmarks.  Indeed, the parochial nature of H. Res. 313 is demonstrated by the co-sponsorship of the legislation by two freshmen members from adjoining districts.

Aside from the unfairness of the earmarking process, there is no evidence or study that shows one type of earmark is superior to any other earmark.  This is one of many reasons why there will never be a limited exception to earmarks; it is an all-or-nothing proposition.

We understand that Rep. Rooney’s claim that Congress should “restore” its Article I power may be attractive on its face to members of Congress.  This power was never lost; it has simply not been exercised as intended under regular order.  His Dear Colleague makes this very point in the first sentence:  The most effective way to show your constituents that you are spending their money wisely is to restore order to the budget process and pass stand-alone authorization and appropriations bills.  His solution, however, does nothing of the sort.  It subverts the budget process and perverts the authorized distribution of funds that were agreed to by the entire Congress.  Rather than reviving earmarks, members should review the $310 billion in unauthorized programs that have been identified by the Congressional Budget Office, half of which have not been reauthorized for more than a decade, and determine their effectiveness and necessity.

A large majority of representatives were not in office when the earmark moratorium was adopted in 2011, so it is understandable that they might be unfamiliar with the history of earmarks, of which there have been 110,605 costing taxpayers $329.8 billion since fiscal year 1991.  These representatives were not present in 2005, when the highway bill included more than $24 billion in earmarks, including the infamous $223 million Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska; or in 2006, when appropriations earmarks reached a record amount of $29 billion and Republicans lost the majority in the House.  They also may not be aware that members of Congress, staff, and lobbyists went to jail due to the corruption related to earmarks.  While CCAGW has long described earmarks as “legalized bribery,” the line to illegal activity can easily be crossed.

Rep. Rooney’s legislation and his push to revive earmarks earned him the Porker of the Month for May 2017, and he was also the Porker of the Month for December 2016, along with Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and John Culberson (R-Texas), for their efforts to restore “limited” earmarks.

Again, I urge you not to co-sponsor H. Res. 313.  If you agree to do so, you will be associating yourself with every aspect of the earmarking process, including its sordid past.

Beware of the porker in sheep’s clothing.


Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW

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