In a move partially designed to one-up the Democrats, House Republicans voted today to impose a one-year moratorium on all earmarks, not just those to for-profit companies. The ban, approved by voice vote, would apply not only to appropriations bills but also to authorizing and tax measures.
“Yay!” you say? “One of my biggest fears was yet another earmark for the C-17 or the F-35 extra engine!”
Not so much – It looks as if the so-called ban on added spending may be full of holes. The Hill notes that:
… billions added to the defense bills for existing national security programs under contract with major defense companies such as Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman probably would not be affected.
For example, when House appropriators add more funds for Boeing’s C-17 cargo aircraft, they do not disclose them as earmarks. Instead, they are considered programs essential to national security even though none of the funds are requested by the Pentagon. These funds benefit lawmaker districts where the weapons systems are built.
Further, the Senate does not look to be on board with any current plan for a ban on earmarks. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman, and champion of the C-17, Daniel Inouye has already begun to fight back, remarking that the action was not in the “best interest of the Congress or the American people.”
Today’s announcement is a shrewd political move for a House that has recently been plagued by controversy and talk of corruption, but bears little weight. Congress will not be fighting any tigers in the near future.
UPDATE 3/11: Okay, okay, some people *cough* Dan and Mary *cough* don’t get the reference. From Wikipedia: I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! and Other Stories, by Dr. Seuss — “The title story concerns a boy who brags that he can fight 30 tigers and win. He makes excuse after excuse, finally disqualifying all the tigers until he must fight no tigers at all.” Ha!