Even Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, who made battling earmarks a cornerstone of his Congressional career since his election in 1990, said he would not have predicted that Congress could kick the habit.
“Think of this fight we have had for 20 years,” Mr. Boehner said in a recent interview. “If somebody would have asked me, ‘Will you ever get there?’ I would have had my doubts.”
But through a confluence of events, Mr. Boehner and the rest of the anti-earmark crowd did get there; the impact of the decision by leaders of the House and the Senate to ban earmarks for at least the next two years is already being felt.
When House Republicans were searching for cuts to offer Senate Democrats as part of a temporary spending plan to avert a government shutdown, they were able to reach into accounts set aside for earmarks and find nearly $2.8 billion that would have previously gone to water projects, transit programs and construction programs. No earmarks, no need for that money, and the threat of an imminent shutdown was eased.
Lawmakers said the absence of earmarks also allowed for a more freewheeling debate on the House floor during consideration of the Republican plan to slash $61 billion from this year’s budget since Democrats and Republicans were not caught up in protecting the special provisions they had worked so hard to tuck into the spending bill.
ACTUAL change you can believe in. Boehner’s Congress has already shown to be a better steward of our money than every Congress in a generation before.