The House Republican Conference recently adopted a yearlong moratorium on earmarks, and are hoping to pass a resolution that will force House democrats to follow suit. As WNPR's Ray Hardman reports, Connecticut lawmakers plan to use earmarks to pay for some major projects in the state.
Earmarks are a time honored tradition in Congress. Lawmakers direct federal dollars to fund specific projects in their home state, usually through an appropriation bill. But with government spending being scrutinized by groups like the Tea Party movement, House Republicans have agreed to a year long break from them. They say those earmarked dollars will instead go to pay down the federal debt. House Democrats counter that the money is already appropriated, and will go by default to federal agencies, rather than worthwhile local projects. According to Capitol News Connection reporter Manuel Quinones, Connecticut's congressional delegation has already earmarked millions for projects in the state:
"Congressman Larson, he wants $8 million for the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, and that's for defense research having to do with energy storage. Congresswoman DeLauro, she wants $2.3 million for the University of Connecticut for animal vaccine research and a million for the University of New Haven for Long Island Sound biofuel research. Chris Murphy wants $4 million for St. Mary's hospital for improvements there."
Last month, House Democrats stopped the practice of directing earmarks to for-profit companies, but will not sign onto a resolution introduced by House Republicans to a full moratorium. The Senate meanwhile has shown no interest in curbing earmark spending.
For WNPR news, I'm Ray Hardman.