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Armed Services Chairman Clarifies Earmark Ban

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  • March 27, 2011
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House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) reiterated Friday that all earmarks would be barred from the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill, but outlined the procedure for committee members to amend the president’s budget request for DOD.

“The American people want to know that their taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively on the nation’s defense,” McKeon said.

The guidance issued by McKeon upholds his commitment to ban all earmarks within legislation before the committee during the 112th Congress, stating that no member will be allowed to direct money to a specific entity or within a specific locality.

“Budgetary legislative proposals must be awarded on merit-based selection procedures or through a competitive award process,” the chairman’s statement said. Such a proposal “would make specific funding additions and reductions” to the authorization bill “to assert congressional priorities in the conduct of U.S. defense policy,” according to the guidance.

Budgetary legislative proposals will be required to be offered as an amendment when the full committee marks up its version of the authorization bill. As a result, each proposal would be subject to debate and voted on by all committee members. All legislative proposals will be part of the public record and all adopted proposals will be posted on the committee’s website, according to the guidance.

The new procedures are a sharp break from the previous process which allowed changes to the president’s budget request to be included in the chairman’s markup without any debate.

“The carefully crafted process released by Chairman McKeon will allow the U.S. Congress to uphold its constitutional duties while also banning earmarks and forcing every legislative proposal offered by a member to stand on national security merits in order to be adopted,” according to the statement.

For the complete guidance, visit the committee website. The committee plans to mark up the authorization bill in May.

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