Congressman Jim Cooper

Representing the 5th District of Tennessee

Cooper Announces Bipartisan Earmark Elimination Act

Mar 28, 2018
Press Release
Cooper, Rice, Budd, Norman: Our Bill Would Ban Earmarks Forever

Pet Projects Don’t Belong in Congressional Budgets

WASHINGTON – Fighting a push to resurrect pork-barrel federal spending, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05), U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY-04), U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (NC-13) and U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman (SC-05) today announced bipartisan legislation that would permanently ban earmarks from the legislative process.

Earmarks – also known as “pork projects” – are directed spending items, limited tax benefits or limited tariff benefits that are targeted to help a specific entity in a given congressional district and nothing else.

Amid a period of fiscal irresponsibility in Congress, the Earmark Elimination Act of 2018 is timely, given recent efforts to restore earmarks to the congressional budget process. Congress has passed brief moratoriums in the past, but some Members of Congress have continued to conjure ways to work around the bans.

“Earmarks encourage the worst behavior because they tempt people in Congress to steal taxpayer money to benefit big contributors or grease their own re-election,” said Rep. Jim Cooper. “Taxpayer money should only be spent on high-quality projects, not low-grade special interests. Allowing even a few earmarks is like planting kudzu; pretty soon they will take over everything.”

“Eliminating earmarks was one of the few real steps Congress has taken in recent years to reform the status quo in Washington and put taxpayers first,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “As we’ve seen over just the past year, there are always people working to erase progress and get back to the old way of doing business in Washington. That’s why we need to act now to pass this bipartisan legislation and make the earmark ban permanent.”

“This bill is about sending a clear message: that the days of pork-barrel spending ended in 2011,” said Rep. Ted Budd.  “It represents a permanent solution to the earmark problem, and gives the current ban the force of law.  North Carolina taxpayers do not work hard every day and pay their taxes to build bridges to nowhere or indoor rainforests.  I’m grateful to my bipartisan colleagues, Reps. Cooper, Norman and Rice, for their support on this important legislation.”

“Earmarks are not the solution for Congressional dysfunction, and would only move us in the wrong direction,” Rep. Ralph Norman said. “This legislation will ensure that decisions to vote for or against a bill are on the bill’s merits, not because of whether a member will get pork for voting for a bill or not.”

The Earmark Elimination Act would prohibit the House from considering any legislation containing earmarks, and it would strip any earmarks found in a bill being considered by the House before it may proceed.