A transfer in power in the House may usher in a return to earmarks, with several members of the House Democratic leadership indicating that is their intention. “I hope they come back,” Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who will take over as majority whip next year, told the Washington Examiner. “I was against them ever leaving,” he said. Clyburn and many other lawmakers from both parties have argued that the ban on earmarks established by House Republicans in 2011 deprived them of their authority to direct spending. “I am for what the Constitution says the Congress has the authority and responsibility to do: raise and spend money,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who will become majority leader in the 116th Congress. The argument becomes especially pointed for Democrats who have no interest in ceding decision-making over how to allocate federal spending across congressional districts to the Trump administration.
Given the negative reputation earmarks earned in past decades for leading to waste and, in some cases, corruption, House Democrats can be expected to impose some reforms to ensure transparency and accountability. “It would definitely need to be different than the way it was before,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).