Campaign 2010

May 03, 2012

Republican Freshmen Caught “Begging” Republican Leaders to Bring Back Earmarks

Republican Freshmen Caught "Begging" Republican Leaders to Bring Back Earmarks

According to Politico, House Republican freshmen have been caught "begging" Republican leaders to bring back earmarks. Sixty-five House Republican freshmen signed a letter in support of earmarks "even though it runs counter to the earmark ban Republicans campaigned on in 2010 and instituted when they took power."

"And in typical Washington fashion, [Republicans] think they’ve found a loophole that will get [these earmarks] past the ban," Politico reported.

While these Republican freshmen break their promise and push for taxpayer-funded earmarks, they continue to support ending Medicare and raising health care costs for seniors. [Politico, 4/23/12]

  • See which House Republican freshmen were caught begging to bring back earmarks here.
  • GOP Conference rules specifically ban "a congressional earmark, limited tax benefit or limited tariff benefit, as such terms have been described in the rules of the House." [GOP Conference Rules, 2/16/11]
  • 42 House Republicans Voted Against Tariff Bills in 2010 Because they Were Earmarks. On July 21, 2010, forty-two House Republicans—including John Boehner and Eric Cantor—vote against the “The U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act” which was otherwise known as the miscellaneous tariff bill.  According to Michael Steel, a spokesman for then-House Minority Leader John Boehner, “The House Republican Conference voted to adopt an earmark moratorium, and voting for this legislation would violate that moratorium.” [HR 4380, Vote #456, 7/21/10; Associated Press, 7/21/10; Politico, 7/20/10]

Hypocritical House Republican freshmen claiming they oppose earmarks -- before they were caught "begging" for them:

  • Joe Walsh (IL-08): On his campaign website, Joe Walsh pledged to the voters of Illinois 8th District, “I will never add an earmark to any bill.” [Joe Walsh for Congress, accessed 4/27/12]
  • Robert Dold (IL-10):  Dold’s campaign website states “I oppose earmarks and took a vow as Congressman not to request them. Although some earmarks fund worthy programs, too many do not and reflect a common misuse of precious taxpayers’ dollars. Ending the earmark process that has been so abused by those in Washington is an important and immediate way to cut federal spending.” [Dold for Congress, accessed 2/27/12]
  • Bobby Schilling (IL-17): “It’s shocking what happens with these earmarks. Right now, the process is fundamentally flawed. Hundreds of these projects are tacked onto huge appropriations bills without eve r being read on the floor of Congress. I believe that each amendment should be voted on separately. Perhaps these projects are worthy of the use of taxpayer dollars, but each one should be called to a vote. The way it is done currently is a disservice to the American people. It is irresponsible government.” [Illinois Review, 6/21/10]
  • Bobby Schilling (IL-17): In a 2010 op-ed, Bobby Schilling wrote: “Congress' out-of-control spending is the problem, not the solution. We need earmark reform that improves transparency, roots out corruption and eliminates wasteful spending.” [Quad-Cities Online, 10/17/10]
  • Larry Bucshon (IN-09):  On his congressional website, Bucshon boasted that the 112th Congress “committed to eliminating earmarks and getting our fiscal house in order.” [, accessed 4/27/12]
  • Dan Benishek (MI-01): In 2010, Benishek said that he would vote against any earmarks designated for his district. “I am not going to request any earmarks,” Benishek said. “I don’t know if I can reject an earmark. It comes to my district, if somebody else does it, I would certainly vote against it.” [iCaucus Interview with Dan Benishek]
  • Dan Benishek (MI-01):  In a December 2011 interview with The Herald Times, Benishek was asked what accomplishment he was most proud of.  He answered, “As a whole I’m very proud of the fact there’s no more earmarks. No longer are we talking about spending money we don’t have. We’re trying to spend less money every year. We’ve cut spending two years in a row — not nearly as much as we’d like, but it’s a trend we need to continue. Being able to buy someone off in their district is something that’s no longer there.” [The Herald Times, 12/20/11]
  • Tim Walberg (MI-07): “I said it could be done without giving in to the blackmail of what’s become all too common: ‘If you’ll support my porkt, I’ll support your pork...I said I was not going to get caught up with that, and if it came to the point that a bill was so filled with egregious pork that I couldn’t support it, I would vote against it. I still thought I would get significant support and help for my district from appropriate funding sources.” [Walberg for Congress, accessed 4/27/12]
  • Chip Cravaack (MN-08): Three days later, the Star Tribune wrote that “Cravaack also ran against the very congressional earmark process that Oberstar used to bestow federal benefits upon Minnesota.” The paper also reported that “at a fundraiser in Mora in early October, Cravaack said flatly, ‘I am not getting any earmarks for me.’” [Star Tribune, 11/07/10]
  • Bill Johnson (OH-06): While campaigning in 2010, Johnson said he was opposed to all earmarks. He said he opposed out-of-control spending and wanted to stop funding programs that are not working, like the National Endowment for the Arts and other pork and earmarks. [Politifact, 7/05/11; Athens News, 10/28/10]
  • Steve Stivers (OH-15): “While there have been both good and bad earmarks, they have come to represent out-of-control government spending.” [The Columbus Dispatch, 11/17/10]
  • Jim Renacci (OH-16): In a January 2010 appearance on PBS’ Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Renacci said, “I think people -- I think people in this country understand now we have got to get spending under control. And I think they have given us the task of coming here and get spending under control. And that includes the earmarks and bringing those dollars back.” [PBS, 1/07/11]
  • Bob Gibbs (OH-18): In an op-ed he wrote in a local paper in 2011, Bob Gibbs said, “Since I came to Congress, I have worked to get spending under control... I banned all earmarks, taking a big step towards ending the "business-as-usual" spending culture of Washington. It is time to cut up the credit cards and get this nation back on a sustainable financial path.” [Newark Advocate, 7/07/11]
  • Reid Ribble (WI-08): In an interview in February 2011, Ribble said of the earmark system and his support for a moratorium, “We've found the earmark system has gotten corrupted. Members of Congress or even bodies of Congress decide to use the taxpayers' money as a bargaining chip for some pet project. It has gotten so out of control that it seemed the most prudent step […] was to eliminate the earmarking process from this Congress.” [Appleton Post Crescent, 2/06/11]
  • Martha Roby (AL-02): “This is a moratorium, which means “for some time.” It doesn’t mean permanent. But this is the first step in getting our fiscal house in order [...]My favorite example is the tattoo removal program in California. The people of Alabama don’t want their federal tax dollars spent on something like that, and this is where the effectiveness, the addiction of our representatives to these earmarks, has gone. This, again, is a step in moving us in the right direction of tightening our belts just like the people in Alabama’s 2nd District are doing. We need to get that money back in the hands  of those who have the ability to create jobs, because job creation in the private sector is the number one way we will see our economy back on track. [Dothan Eagle, 11/30/10]
  • Rick Crawford (AR-01): In April 2012, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Crawford supported bringing back earmarks, in spite of signing a 2010 pledge against them. “Constituents expect their Congressman to bring back as many federal dollars as they can...I’m only one voice in a very large geographic area. We’ve kind of hit a brick wall”, Crawford said.  [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 4/08/12]
  • Tim Griffin (AR-02): In a press release on his vote for the House Republicans’ earmark ban, Tim Griffin said: “While some worthwhile projects have been funded through earmarks, earmarks have contributed to wasteful spending and the corruption of our system. I am proud we have taken this crucial step toward earning the confidence and trust of the American people.” [Tim Griffin press release, 11/18/10]
  • Steve Womack (AR-03): “There may be some projects shelved for a while...but we have to get our financial house in order...The notion that 535 people who have been elected to bring the bacon home- that’s history.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 3/13/11]
  • Steve Southerland (FL-02) “I think it’s been very good to not have earmarks this year. I think it’s been a shot to the system, and whether that stays in place long term, there’s not been a lot of discussion about that, but I think this year, it has been very helpful to all freshmen like me to come in without the diversion of earmarks.” [C-Span, 1/24/12]
  • Steve Southerland (FL-02)“I think the earmark moratorium has had a lot to do with changing what’s going on in D.C. right now, as earmarks are not a part of the process. A bill has to have your support based on its good points [...] A lot of us are small businessmen and we’re not there just to do what’s needed to get re-elected. That provides some challenges to the inside-the-beltway mentality.” [Tallahassee Democrat, 9/02/11]
  • Allen West (FL-18): “We have to have an earmark ban because I think that’s one of those things that  cause a very negative perception coming from the American public of what Congress is doing up here. We need to have legislative bills and appropriations that can stand on their own, and we have to get away from having these tree hanging amendments that we plug into defense appropriations bills and things of that nature.” [NewsmaxTV, 12/01/10]
  • David Rivera (FL-26): “In the last year, Congress approved $16.5 billion in earmark spending at a time when we cannot afford to waste money on projects that benefit few people. I eliminated earmarks at the state level during my time in the Florida State House and I will work to do the same at the federal level.” [David Rivera for Congress ,accessed 4/27/12]
  • Renee Ellmers (NC-02): When criticizing the size of the national debt, Renee Ellmers said: “This kind of ‘pork barrel’ spending is one reason why.” [Renee Ellmers press release, 9/17/10]
  • Stephen Fincher (TN-08): On his campaign website, Stephen Fincher said: “We need earmark reform. We need transparency. We need to change the culture in Washington.” [Stephen Fincher website, accessed 4/27/12]
  • Scott Rigell (VA-02): After being elected to Congress in 2010, Rigell promised to bring down the debt and to "stop the pork," vowing to prohibit any earmark not tied to defense or homeland security. [WVEC, 11/03/10]
  • Mike Kelly (PA-03): In his 2012 announcement he would be running for reelection, Kelly said, “In the House of Representatives this past year, we have passed measures to: bring more surety to job creators; rein in spending by enacting spending cuts; reduce the federal deficit; and eliminate wasteful earmarks. However, I believe much more needs to be done to foster a better climate to create jobs, reform our legislative process and shrink the size and cost of the federal government.” [Mike Kelly for Congress press release, 2/10/12]
  • Patrick Meehan (PA-07): In a 2010 op-ed, Meehan wrote, “By imposing constraints on Congress, it will force our elected officials to weed out wasteful spending and ineffective government programs, cut back on pork projects, and address tough issues in regards to federal spending.  Plain and simple, we cannot afford to allow our current legislators to continue to pass the buck and not make the tough spending decisions that are needed.” [The Mercury, 3/17/10]
  • Lou Barletta (PA-11):  The Times-Tribune reported that Barletta “especially favors getting federal deficits under control. ‘This government has run amok. Wasteful spending, wasteful earmarks,’ he said.” [Times-Tribune, 10/27/08]
  • Frank Guinta (NH-01): While discussing his pledge not to request earmarks for the district, Frank Guinta said: “Being a member of congress today shouldn't be about bringing money back to your community or your state or your district. It needs to be about how do we get our economy back on track, how do we put ourselves in financial and fiscal control again.” [Frank Guinta website, accessed 4/27/12]
  • Charlie Bass (NH-02): In April 2011, Bass met with Grafton County Commissioners.  While speaking about the Dartmouth Regional Technical Center, a facility funded in part with earmarked funds requested by Bass’s predecessor, Bass said “Earmarks are not going to happen," said Bass, until Congress can get its “fiscal house in order.” [Littleton Courier, 4/27/11]
  • Jon Runyan (NJ-03): “I will never be afraid to take a stand against feel-good spending bills that we simply cannot afford, no matter how well-intentioned or politically popular they may be. I am proud to report that I took the first step in that direction today by voting with my future colleagues in the House Republican Conference to ban earmarks in the 112th Congress. I was elected on a mandate to deliver a more fiscally responsible, transparent federal government, and that is exactly what I plan to do in Washington, DC.” [Runyan for Congress, 11/18/10]
  • Michael Grimm (NY-11): On his 2010 campaign website, Michael Grimm said: “To generate sources of revenue outside of taxing the American public to death, we should start by implementing a promise that President Obama made during his election, eliminate earmarks! This "pork barrel" spending coming out of Congress is tantamount to criminal acts and must be stopped.” [Michael Grimm website, accessed 2/09/12]
  • Chris Gibson (NY-19): In a meeting with the editorial board of a local paper, Chris Gibson said: “Now what’s happened is the earmarking system, over time, has been, I think, corrupted and been viewed as part of the problem in terms of the excessive spending. You had the highlight on Bridge to Nowhere, among other things. So I think what we have to do is we have to take a moratorium on all this, and we need to get our budget back in line.” [Post-Star, 12/30/10]
  • Richard Hanna (NY-22): When criticizing his predecessor for requesting earmarks, Richard Hanna said: “This kind of irresponsible behavior is why our country is going broke and it is politicians like Mr. Arcuri that are destroying our children's futures. This is just one reason why it's essential that we pass the Earmark Transparency Act.” [, 7/22/10]
  • Nan Hayworth (NY-29):  In 2010, Hayworth ran on a limited-government agenda including a promise not to earmark any federal money for district projects. She said, “People understand that for the few crumbs that may fall from the federal table in District 19, we pay out millions more.” [Associated Press, 9/30/10]
  • Jeff Denham (CA-19): In 2010, in an interview with Southern California Public Radio station KPCC, Jeff Denham called congressional earmarks “un-American.” [KPCC, 11/23/10]
  • Joe Heck (NV-03): In 2010, Hayworth promised to not seek earmarks, saying, “I would not take earmarks. I would not solicit nor would I accept earmarks for the district […] In an election year, everyone wants to run how much pork they’ve brought back, how many building have their name on them. I’m not a believer in that.” [Politico, 5/17/10]
  • Blake Farenthold (TX-27): After voting for the House Republicans’ earmark ban, Blake Farenthold tweeted: “just voted to ban earmarks in Republican conference. my first substantive vote.” [Blake Farenthold tweet, 11/18/10]
  • Vicky Hartzler (MO-04): In 2010, Vicky Hartzler voted for a ban on earmarks. After casting her vote she said, “It is time to get serious about attacking runaway government spending and balancing our budget. This is a good first step. We will begin the new session of Congress knowing we are protecting hard-earned taxpayer dollars." [Pulaski County Daily, 11/18/10]

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