May 18, 2021
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have brought back earmarks after a 10-year moratorium, but this time the provisions come with several reforms that could make higher education institutions prime recipients of the funding.
Now referred to as “community project funding” in the House and “congressionally directed spending” in the Senate, earmarking allows lawmakers to direct funding from federal agencies to specific projects in their home states or districts. The practice was controversial, with opponents concerned about corruption and wasteful spending. But with its ban in 2011, Congress ceded some of its power to the executive branch, said Senate Appropriations Committee chair Patrick Leahy, the Democrat from Vermont.
“Even though we appropriate the money, we can’t even direct even a tiny fraction of the tax dollars we collect from the hardworking constituents and send those tax dollars back into the communities,” Leahy said in an April 26 floor speech announcing that the committee would begin accepting requests, adding that executive bureaucrats “can’t understand our communities to the extent each one of the 100 senators in this body do.”