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Big Coalition of Anti-Earmark Advocacy Groups Warn Congress Against Return to ‘Business-as-Usual’

A coalition of 18 conservative non-profit advocacy groups that oppose the return of earmarks to congressional spending issued a letter Feb. 22 to all 535 senators and representatives warning them that taxpayers “want an end to business-as-usual.” The coalition’s warning refers to plans of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) to restore the practice under a new title of “Member-directed spending.” Earmarks are obscure provisions in appropriations bills that allow individual congressmen to direct tax dollars, often anonymously, to family members, friends, and campaign donors. The earmarks, which are often described in general terms that make it difficult to identify specific beneficiaries, are not specifically voted on but become law when the larger bills in which they are included are approved. Congress declared a moratorium on earmarks in 2011, but it expired in January 2019. The Republican-controlled Senate opted to ban …

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