Tampa Bay Times
November 17, 2016
Rep. Tom Rooney wants to bring back earmarks for water projects
Florida Rep. Tom
Rooney wants to bring earmarks back to
Washington – sort of – but House Speaker Paul
Ryan has put up an obstacle named Donald Trump.
The Republican has offered a
proposal that would allow lawmakers to designate money for water projects under
the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.
“When I go home to my county commissioners, they say ‘Can you
shore up the dike around Lake Okeechobee?’ I’m like, ‘no.’ I can write a letter
and hope that they listen to me. Which, over at the Army Corps, they probably
look at that letter and put it in the shredder. They don’t give a rat’s ass
what I think,” Rooney told reporters on Wednesday.
“When I got elected, we could do this. Now we can’t.”
Rooney’s proposal is echoed by other lawmakers who feel congress
have given up too much authority to the executive branch. The earmark ban has
been in place since Republicans took the House in 2010.
But during a GOP conference meeting yesterday, Ryan shut down
such talk, reminding the group that Trump has promised to “drain the swamp” and
it would send a poor signal. Ryan, however, said earmarks could be reconsidered
all supported the earmark ban in 2011 and still support it now," read a
statement to the Times from Rooney's office.
"What we don’t support is the unintended consequence of
giving unelected bureaucrats in federal agencies in Washington, DC a blank
check and letting them decide whether or not to fund the economically-important
dam safety, water quality, flood control, harbor maintenance and ecosystem
restoration projects in our districts. There are several authorized Army Corps
and Reclamation sites and projects that deserve more funding and attention than
the Executive Branch has provided to date. This amendment will allow Members to
request funding to shore up levees in Louisiana and Texas, to speed up flood
control projects in Florida or to expedite drought response projects in California.
Under our proposal, Members will be able to immediately – and in a manner
that’s fully open to the public – take their unique knowledge and understanding
of their hometowns and put it to use, all without increasing annual spending by
"We want to be very clear: We are not proposing a complete
repeal of the earmark moratorium, nor are we advocating for increased spending
or a return to the corrupt practice of earmarking funds for special interests.
We know the American people are fed up with Congress and they’re sick of
hearing the same inside-the-beltway excuses for inaction. Our constituents
experience the consequences of the federal government’s missteps, delays and
funding shortfalls and it is not only rewarding when we’re able to successfully
intervene on their behalf, it is our Constitutional duty to do so responsibly
and transparently. Today, you either you vote to continue the broken status
quo, or to take back the reigns of control our Founding Fathers intended in
Article I of the Constitution and exercise your power of the purse
transparently and responsibly."