Many House Republicans have been eager to suspend the chamber’s eight-year-old ban on earmarks, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) recently has been urging the GOP Conference to step back and let Democrats make the first move when they assume control of the House in the 116th Congress. “Let the new party wrestle with whether they want to do that. The first move is theirs on this issue now,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, told Politico.
The House Democratic Conference is expected to consider reinstating earmarks, sometimes referred to as congressionally directed spending by lawmakers, when it meets to set its own rules for legislation. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), who is expected to become chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said she does not know how Democratic members would vote on a resolution to restore earmarks. “But if there is bipartisan consensus, it’s in Article I, and we have a right to have them. And if there’s bipartisan support, they can come back,” Lowey said.
If the Democratic Conference in the House moves to bring back earmarks, the chamber still would need to coordinate with the Senate to ensure the change wouldn’t hold up new spending measures.