Last Updated on December 14, 2022
Key lawmakers indicated on Tuesday that an Omnibus framework is agreed upon and in place. According to Bloomberg Government, the new agreement contains over 7,500 earmarks totaling $16 billion in 2023 appropriations bills that could be included in the final Omnibus bill. A number of House Freedom Caucus members have called for the upcoming Republican-led House to ban the controversial practice of earmarking, though the McCarthy-led GOP caucus voted to keep earmarks during a conference vote earlier this year.
Earmarks are spending provisions that lawmakers often attack to bills that are likely to pass. The practice has long generated controversy, with critics arguing that it encourages corruption and fiscal mismanagement by allowing lawmakers to add “pork” into bills.
Bloomberg Government reported that a handful of retiring Senators stand to gain the most if the current earmarks stay in the bill’s final draft. This would include infrastructure and university funds sought by Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), in addition to military construction projects added by Senate Armed Services ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-OK).
The Senate included 3,123 earmarks totaling $7,780,973,000 in its fiscal 2023 appropriations bills released in July, while House side, lawmakers included 4,386 earmarks totaling $8,231,999,565 according to an analysis earlier conducted by Bloomberg Government earlier this year. Combined, the two chambers have published 7,509 earmarks totaling $16,012,972,565.
“The earmarked funding total is slightly less than 1% of the roughly $1.7 trillion government funding package lawmakers hope to finish this year. Members agreed to apply a 1% limit to the new earmarking process when they brought it back ahead of fiscal 2022, after a decade-long ban on the process,” Bloomberg Government reported.
More than 7,500 earmarks totaling $16 billion hang in the balance as lawmakers attempt to negotiate a government funding deal and avoid a year-long stopgap measure that wouldn’t dole out any funds to members’ favorite local projects. https://t.co/uU2oCr3fls pic.twitter.com/n4oIDhVEy7
— Bloomberg Government (@BGOV) December 13, 2022
Several House Freedom Caucus Republicans have criticized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and a number of their GOP colleagues for voting to keep earmarks when they take control of the House next month. “Republicans—yes, Republicans—voted yesterday in our conference meeting 158-52 AGAINST banning earmarks,” U.S. Rep. Bob Good wrote in a tweet on December 1. “The silence from leadership is deafening. We cannot continue the status quo. We must have change!”
Rep. Good has been one of McCarthy’s most vocal opponents as debate continues over who should lead the Republican majority U.S. House of Representatives this January. Like Good, U.S. Reps. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) have pointed to McCarthy’s inability to ban earmarks as primary factors in planning to vote “no” on McCarthy on January 3.
“Kevin McCarthy ran on curbing wasteful government spending, but he sat back while establishment Republicans voted to keep earmarks,” Rep. Rosendale wrote in a tweet on December 2. “We need a Republican Speaker who will challenge the status quo.”
Rosendale has long been an opponent of earmarks and has repeatedly called on Congress to ban the practice entirely. “Earmarks generate a culture of pay-for-play that forces legislators to choose between getting into a dirty game or being at a disadvantage to others who do,” the Montana Congressman wrote in a tweet endorsing the House Freedom Caucus’ opposition to earmarking.
Lawmakers are expected to finish the $1.7 trillion-dollar omnibus package by the end of the year.