This week, the House will vote on its first full bill containing earmarks, the Invest in America Act, which has 1,473 of them tucked into it.
In total 214 Democrats and 105 Republicans submitted requests for project funding. For Democrats, 1,067 projects were approved for a total of $3.96 billion, and for Republicans, 405 projects will receive $1.70 billion.
The earmarks make up $5.66 billion of the $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization and water infrastructure bill, and Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., who has led the Republican charge against the return of what Congress describes as “member designated projects” has proposed an amendment to the Invest in America Act to remove all earmarks.
“Taxpayers across the country are getting their first look at what Washington is like in the new earmark era. It’s not a pretty sight,” Budd said in a statement.
“This transportation spending bill includes 1,474 examples of the Washington Swamp saying they know best when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars. If an earmarked project is truly worthy of taxpayer funding, then it should be proposed individually on the House floor or as a competitive grant. Every taxpayer dollar is sacred and should be treated that way. If this Congress really believed that, then we should remove this pork barrel spending.”
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to vote on Budd’s amendment Tuesday evening.
Chair Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said in a statement earlier this month he was proud of the earmarks’ inclusion in the bill. “With our reforms to the process to ensure transparency and local support, it certainly was not an easy nor quick task for our committee to vet thousands of submissions. But it was absolutely worth it to give elected representatives the chance to directly advocate on behalf of their districts in our surface transportation bill.”
Majority-Democrat states are expected to reap twice the benefits as Republican-led ones, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis, and the bill is not likely to garner much Republican support.
The reauthorization bill is moving to the House floor days after President Biden announced an agreement on infrastructure with a bipartisan group of senators.
The Invest in America Act would authorize more than $200 billion in funding for mass transit and emissions-reducing initiatives. Republicans say it spends too much on climate measures and on increasing funding for the financially ailing Amtrak.
The Democratic-led House is expected to pass the measure while the Senate struggles to cobble together the nearly $1 trillion deal bipartisan senators came to with Biden last week. The House bill spends far more on climate initiatives and highway spending to expand mass transit and bike lanes.