The House Doesn’t Work Without Earmarks

House Republicans are quickly figuring out that earmarks are the currency of Congress, and the House doesn’t work without them:

According to Reuters, GOP Reps. Louis Gohmert and Kay Granger backed up Rogers, and Speaker John Boehner has convened a secret group to figure out how to undo the earmark ban after the next election. GOP Rep. Steve LaTourette also make the case:

Republican Representative Steven LaTourette, an 18-year House veteran, said the earmark ban “has affected discipline” within the party. “You can’t get 218 votes (out of 242 Republican House members) and part of that has to be if you can’t give people anything (earmarks), you can’t take anything away from them.”


  1. Maybe the right answer is to have a bipartisan push to do business in a new way without actions that have the appearance or tinge of corruption/quid pro quo. Its not like anyone was in a hurry to pass a budget beforehand anyway.

    If you are concerned about “cynicism” about governmental institutions, why would you want more of the antics of someone like John Murtha, personally directing federal funds to friends and family as if it were his own? In the internet age, that sort of “scratch my back” behavior is not going to remain private.

    Even given the difference in structures, does every democracy work in this manner to this extent?

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Parliaments don’t work like this because they have strong party discipline. American politics is squeamish about strong party discipline, foolishly in my view, so it’s harder to hold marginal seat members together on tough votes. Hence you need some way to buy off those members. If you can think of a more ethical substitute for holding marginal members together, have at it, but I’m not seeing any practical alternatives.

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