House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) unveiled a plan on Friday to restore a limited version of earmarks that would allow lawmakers to direct spending for special projects in their districts.
Democrats are rebranding earmarks as “Community Project Funding.”
“Members want Congress to help their communities, particularly now as the pandemic exposed so many inequalities and needs,” Chair DeLauro said. “Community Project Funding will allow Members to put their deep, first-hand understanding of the needs of their communities to work to help the people we represent.”
Chair DeLauro also announced that the Appropriations Committee will enforce a set of important reforms that build on existing House Rules and prioritize accountability, transparency, and strong community support.
“Community Project Funding is a critical reform that will make Congress more responsive to the people,” Chair DeLauro said. “Our bipartisan reforms will produce a small number of projects with strong community support, a transparent process where no member’s family can benefit and where projects are audited to ensure money was spent as planned.”
In addition, Chair DeLauro noted that Community Project Funding will help Congress regain control of federal spending from the Executive Branch.
“Community Project Funding restores balance on important decisions about how and where to spend taxpayer dollars, allowing Members of Congress to bring their knowledge and experience to the decision-making,” Chair DeLauro said.
In the coming weeks, the House Appropriations Committee will provide additional information regarding which accounts and programs will be eligible for Community Project Funding requests and the criteria necessary for consideration in those areas. In addition, the Committee will provide support to members and their staffs so they can submit strong requests that meet urgent needs in their communities.
The Senate is separately working out a plan to restore earmarks.
“I have always believed that members of Congress have a better understanding of their communities than Washington bureaucrats,” Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement. “We are in good faith negotiations with the House and my Senate colleagues to bring back Congressionally directed spending in a transparent and responsible way, and those discussions are ongoing. I believe there is bipartisan support to restore the power of the purse to Congress and I am continuing to work toward that goal.”