Don't Bring Back Earmarks!


ACRU Staff


May 31, 2012

As a member of the Conservative Action Project, ACRU President Susan Carleson and leaders of 26 other organizations representing a broad cross section of the conservative movement are united in opposition to bringing back earmarks!

MEMO FOR THE MOVEMENT: Don’t Bring Back Earmarks!

RE: Some members of congress are trying to reopen the earmark ban through an obscure legislative process. For many conservatives, the two-year moratorium on the practice of earmarking was the signature accomplishment of the new House majority elected in 2010. Yet, the current legislative push by involving Miscellaneous Tariff Bills (MTBs) is being used by the Washington establishment to reopen that moratorium and roll back conservative advances.

ACTION: With the Federal government saddled with trillions of dollars in deficits and $16 trillion in debt, bringing back earmarks would only compound Washington’s spending problem. We urge all organizations and individuals concerned about the size of the federal government to issue op-eds, alerts, blog posts, releases, and other communications warning about the implications of ending or modifying the earmark ban. Earmarks should be permanently eliminated, not resurrected. Time is short, therefore please do not delay.

Congress needs to live by the Earmark Moratorium it put in place.

Clearly, the practice of putting thousands of earmarks in spending bills, many for projects of a purely local nature, did not originate with the Founding Fathers–it is a recent phenomenon. Congress never extensively earmarked until the 1990s; it is neither necessary nor traditional to buy elections with pork.

“…federal money should be limited to great national works only, since if it were unlimited it would liable to abuse and might be productive of evil.”

–President James Monroe, 1822

“Earmarking” is not just the normal legislative process or Congress using its “power of the purse.” The term “earmark” does not attach to every Congressional funding decision. Earmarking is a phenomenon whereby legislators direct pork barrel spending to their districts outside of a statutory formula-driven or competitive award process for a federal program. The growth in earmarking has directly coincided with the growth in government.

  • A return to earmarking would mean a return to outrageous taxpayer funded projects like: $2 million for the Vulcan Statue in Birmingham, $1 million for the Woodstock Museum in New York, $200,000 for the study of lobsters, $50,000 thousand for the National Mule and Packers Museum, and $500,000 for hops research.


In 1970, there were 12 earmarks in the defense spending bill. In 2010, there were 1,752 earmarks. The first federal aid-highway bill in 1916 had zero earmarks; the bill to create the Interstate Highway System in 1956 had two projects suggested by members of Congress. President Reagan vetoed a surface transportation bill in 1986 when it had 152 earmarks worth $1 billion, while the most recent highway authorization bill in 2005 had more than 6,300 earmarks worth $24.5 billion, including the infamous Bridge to Nowhere.


  • $7.3 million for grasshopper research in North Dakota–FY1999
  • $1 million for a DNA study of bears in Montana–FY2003
  • $50,000 for a tattoo removal program in California–FY2002

An Earmark is an Earmark is an Earmark

  • House Rule XXI, clause 9 explicitly defines a congressional earmark to include: Limited tariff benefit– a provision modifying the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States in a manner that benefits 10 or fewer entities.iv
  • Republicans maintained “limited” MTBs in the earmark definition because the process of requesting an MTB, the lobbyist involvement and potential for corruption, are similar. Alarmingly, the Ways and Means Committee is asking lawmakers to self-certify that their requests are not in violation of the very specific language of the moratorium. It is a nearly impossible task for small congressional offices, which must then rely on the assertions of the very lobbyists whose companies would benefit from the sought-after MTB.i
  • Already, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is hitting Republican freshmen, saying they have been “caught begging Republican leaders to bring back earmarks.”ii




For additional information on the earmarks issue please visit the following links:


The Conservative Action Project, chaired by former Attorney General Edwin Meese, is designed to facilitate conservative leaders working together on behalf of common goals. Participants include the CEOs of over 100 organizations representing all major elements of the conservative movement–economic, social and national security.

Tom Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Erick Erickson, Editor,

Edwin Meese III, former Attorney General

Chris Chocola, President, Club for Growth

Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring

Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform

Lew Uhler, President, National Tax Limitation Committee

Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council

Alfred Regnery, President, The Paul Revere Project

William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government

Heather Higgins, President, Independent Women’s Voice

Duane Parde, President, National Taxpayers Union

Brent Bozell, President, Media Research Center

Elaine Donnelly, President, Center for Military Readiness

David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection

Gary Bauer, President, American Values

Seton Motley, President, Less Government

David Y. Denholm, President, Public Service Research Foundation

C. Preston Noell, President, Tradition, Family, Property

James Martin, Chairman, 60 Plus Association

Mathew D. Staver, Chairman, Liberty Counsel Action

Richard Viguerie, Chairman,

Michael Needham, Chief Executive Officer, Heritage Action for America

Bill Pascoe, Executive Vice President, Citizens for the Republic

Susan Carleson, Chairman & CEO, American Civil Rights Union

Dr. Herbert London, President Emeritus, Hudson Institute

James Miller III, former Reagan Budget Director

(All organizations listed for Identification purposes only)



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