House Republicans Have Secret Process For Getting Around Paul Ryan’s Earmark Ban

Tue 25th, 2017 2:04 pm EST
Editor-in-Chief

WASHINGTON — The House Republican leadership has a secretive way of bypassing floor amendments to get their members’ earmarks into bills, and they secretly let their members know how to do it without drawing any attention to the practice.

Big League Politics has obtained slides from a PowerPoint presentation that Republican leadership on the House Appropriations Committee delivered to GOP members of Congress. These never-before-published slides explain how congressmen can get their own earmarks (i.e. pork barrel spending for their districts) into bills without raising red flags by asking for floor amendments that need to be voted on publicly.

House Speaker Paul Ryan imposed an “earmark moratorium” on the House of Representatives, for the appearance of propriety, so the pork money that congressmen obtain through the process described in the slides is not referred to as “earmark” money. For the purpose of this article, we will refer to these cash handouts as “stealth earmarks,” which insiders say are the same thing.

The wink-wink process is streamlined and efficient. The slideshow, entitled “FY 2017 Appropriations Process: Addressing Your Member’s Legislative Priorities with the Member Submission Database,” is presented below:

FY 2017 Appropriations Process For Print

Here’s the slide for “The Appropriations Process,” which includes a helpful yellow box called “Member Submission Database Opens” that literally bypasses the first steps of the process and cuts straight to “Subcommittee Markup.”

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Here’s the “Roadmap for Success” for pork-hungry Republicans:

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Things to avoid:

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“Member Submissions Are Critical” says one slide, because the process “Gets us back to regular order…Saves floor time…Helps Committee draft representative bills.”

“The Committee uses the system heavily,” according to the presentation.

The system also “Increases likelihood of inclusion — For FY16 Defense bill, 94% of members who made requests were helped.”

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“Making the System Work for You”:

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Republican House leadership is apparently angry that Democrats use the system more heavily than Republicans, showing a pie graph that noted 7,827 Republican submissions in fiscal year 2016 against 28,001 Democrat submissions.

The slides noted the “GOP Submission Success Rate” by department, which was: 85% for AG, 93% for Interior, 75% for CJS, 88% for LHHS, 74% for Defense, 80% for MiliCon/VA, 91% for Energy/Water, 91% for SFOPS, 75% for FSGG,  67% for THUD, and 92% for Homeland.

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The fiscal year 2017 presentation occurred at the tail end of Republican Hal Rogers’ tenure as House Appropriations chairman, but a well-placed Capitol Hill insider confirms that this process is virtually the same under new Republican chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen. The Appropriations Committee did not return a request for comment for this report.

This process still takes place despite the fact that House Speaker Paul Ryan placed an “earmark moratorium” on the entire Congress, famously stating: “Under the watch of both political parties, Congress grew addicted to the practice of pork-barrel spending. Taxpayers were rightfully angered to learn of their hard-earned tax dollars squandered on the infamous Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska and the Rain Forest Museum in Iowa. More troubling than these egregious examples of waste is the corruptibility of the process. Earmarks aren’t inherently problematic, but when former members of Congress are in jail for selling earmarks, there’s something seriously wrong with the process. In the 111th Congress, House Republicans established a self-imposed ban on the practice of pork-barrel spending through the broken earmark process.  At the start of the 112th Congress, House Republicans expanded the earmark moratorium for the entire House.  This moratorium remains in place for the 114th Congress.”

Ryan did not mention anything about “stealth earmarks” like the kind described in the PowerPoint presentation.

As Chairman Frelinghuysen said in 2010, while defending earmarks, “My duty is to look after my congressional district. It offends more people to the right of me in the Republican Party but I have to be responsible to look after New Jersey..I have never taken more on my committee than any other member of Congress. Whatever I take is pretty much equal to what other subcommittee members take.”