Congress

Senate GOP Says No to Earmarks

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

House Republicans recently voted to join their Democratic counterparts in resurrecting earmarks that could be used to fund pet projects in their own home towns and districts, but Senate Republicans apparently aren't going to join them.

Top Senate Republicans including minority leader Mitch McConnell signaled that they won't be joining the House GOP by saying earmarks are very unpopular among their caucus.

"I don't know, it's controversial over here. We have people with strong views on both ways," Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said when asked what his colleagues would do in the wake of the House decision.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), during a recent interview with Fox News, signaled that members of his caucus would take a hard line, saying earmarks were "very unpopular among Republicans."

"I think we're very unenthusiastic. There may be some Republicans interested in that sort of what's called congressionally directed spending. It doesn't enjoy much support among Republicans," McConnell said.

To some extent, it doesn't even matter, right?

McConnell himself recently said that no members of his Republican caucus will vote for President Biden's infrastructure spending proposal regardless of what's in. They would vote against it even if it included earmarks for their own constituents so in that regard it doesn't matter how they feel about earmarks.

I know some people are pessimistic about the midterm elections because the incumbent party typically doesn't do well in midterms, but I'm optimistic and this is a big reason why.

At the moment, at least five Senate Republicans have announced their retirement and their remaining members and candidates are going to run against big spending in an era when big spending has been completely normalized among the public. Trillions here; trillions there -- the coronavirus pandemic has reminded a large number of Americans that spending is actually good. There's no one in America that's angry about receiving a stimulus check or that schools just got billions of dollars to reopen.

I just don't believe that anti-transgender bills and voter suppression alone will nudge the GOP back into the majority during one midterm election period. Passing Biden's "Build Back Better" infrastructure plan with earmarks included by House Democrats (and no Republican earmarks) could make congressional Republicans look even more useless.

The Democratic party's biggest advantage is producing tangible results that people can see in their bank accounts and on their own streets.