Scandals such as Alaska’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” led Congress to put curbs on earmarks – specific local pork projects inserted at the last minute into spending bills.
The new Democratic Senate did away with its limits on earmarks when it began In January 2021. So earmarking is back big time, and the abuses have come fast and furious: $1.6 million for “equitable shellfish aquaculture” in Rhode Island, $3 million for an art collection in Chuck Schumer’s Brooklyn, N.Y., and $500,000 for horse management in Nevada.
GOP Senator Mike Braun of Indiana joined with Senators Rick Scott of Florida and Steve Daines of Montana to inject a little sanity in the process. This week they was able to get some minor concessions, that will end the practice of inserting earmarks into a bill just hours before they voted on and with little scrutiny.
We will take even small steps to stop the spending, but the real battle will take place next January when – if Republicans take control of the Senate. Will a GOP Senate restrict pork? Probably not, but hope springs eternal.