Today, following reports “that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was considering declaring a ban on earmarks this year, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold strongly endorsed the effort in a letter to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,” according to a press release.
Full text of the letter:
I was heartened by recent reports that House Democrats are considering banning earmarked spending in appropriations bills this year. I strongly endorse that effort, and urge you both to push for an end to this abusive practice in your respective caucuses.
Unauthorized congressional earmarks continue to be a serious problem. For all the lip service Congress pays to this issue, there are still thousands of earmarked spending provisions enacted every year. By one estimate, in 2004 alone more than $50 billion in earmarks were passed. Just last year, the Omnibus Appropriations bill for FY 2009 passed in March contained more than eight thousand earmarks costing $7 billion, and the Consolidated Appropriations bill for FY 2010 passed in December included nearly five thousand earmarks, costing $3.7 billion.
There is no excuse for a system that allows that kind of wasteful spending year after year. Not only does it squander taxpayers’ money, it also undermines legitimate public policies, and aggravates the already massive budget deficits that risk our long-term economic growth.
Earmarking pet projects in appropriations bill continues only because it has bipartisan support. Once it loses bipartisan support, the abusive practice will end.
Under your leadership, I hope the two Democratic Caucuses will take the lead in putting an end to unauthorized earmarked spending in appropriations bills.
(credit image – getty)