FederalTaxes & SpendingRep. Chip Roy Leads Charge Against Reinstatement of Congressional Earmarks

Congressional earmarks have come out of a decade-long hibernation and the GOP is divided on their use.
March 17, 2021
Texas is known for its beef barbecue and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) is hellbent on keeping it that way in his crusade against the re-establishment of congressional pork.

“Pork,” also known as “earmarks,” refers to special fiscal carve-outs for local entities whether businesses or governments funded by federal spending.

The practice was eliminated by Republicans after the Tea Party wave of 2010 when they took the House. Supporters say it’s a way to ensure funds reach their districts for necessary projects and opponents see the practice as cronyism by which politicians grease the palms of their benefactors.

Roy remains opposed to this resurrection by House Democratic appropriators. He circulated a letter along with 17 other House Republicans promising not to request earmarks for their respective districts. Roy is the only Texas Republican to sign the letter.

But that group of 18 is a vast minority not only among the entire body, but of the 211-member GOP caucus.

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The issue has divided many Republicans. The House GOP caucus voted 102-84 in a secret ballot to embrace earmarks as part of its internal rules, but the provision comes with certain stipulations that the earmark must be publicly disclosed with a written justification and confirm they hold no personal stake.

Roy stated, “It is the currency of corruption in Washington. We shouldn’t do it. The Republican party should be ashamed of themselves.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD-05) said that he expects House Republicans to partake in the process.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus, of which Roy is a member along with five other Texas Republicans, is opposed to the practice. Former Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX-06) was in the group before he passed away last month.

On the Senate side, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated that the majority of the Republicans in that chamber oppose the practice.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) mirrored Roy’s opposition, telling The Texan, “I think returning to earmarks is a serious mistake, and it’s unfortunate. Earmarks played a major role in the out of control spending we have in Washington, and they play a major role in entrenching the swamp from both parties.”

”When Republicans led the charge to ban earmarks, it was a major step towards limiting the power of the swamp and today House Republicans turned back on that promise.”

Former South Carolina governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, applauded the letter, and asked, “Why isn’t every member of Congress signing this?”

Haley is expected to be gunning for the 2024 GOP presidential candidacy.

Earmarks were done away with after multiple scandals landed legislators in jail for violations in their quest to bring home the bacon.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include Sen. Cruz’s statement.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.