U.S. Senate Hopeful to Congress: Dump Earmark Talk

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/01/10/u-s-senate-hopeful-to-congress-dump-earmark-talk/

BOSTON — Winchester businessman John Kingston, one of several Republicans angling for the nod to challenge Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren in November, paused on Wednesday from engaging in the normal anti-Warren rhetoric dominating GOP chatter to call on House Republicans leaders to drop all talks of reintroducing the business of earmarks to Capitol Hill.

Kingston issued prepared remarks ahead of next week’s House Rules Committee hearings, in which lawmakers are reportedly flirting with bringing back the controversial use of earmarks — or designated funding aimed specifically at in-district pet projects. In 2006, Democrats managed to wrestle control of Congress away from Republicans in part by denouncing the practice.

“The use of earmarks to pass legislation in Washington was banned specifically because of the incredible waste and cronyism the practice invited,” Kingston said. “The pork barrel system brought us such infamous taxpayer-funded boondoggles as the ‘bridge-to-nowhere’ and should not be brought back.”

According to a Roll Call report, House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) has complained that the 2011 banning of earmarks has resulted in billions of dollars being steered by the executive branch and not Congress, the legislative branch responsible for managing the country’s purse strings.

“Over the next several months, we will have people who come talk to us about a constitutional view of it,” Sessions is quoted as saying in the Roll Call report. “We will have people come talk to us who have been helped by the process, or who’ve benefited. We will have people whom it harmed, or had no way to participate in the opportunity to get the $18 billion. I’m sure we will include some agencies who will come and say they enjoyed sole decision-making authority with taxpayer money.”

Kingston on Wednesday made it clear that he’s no fan of flirting with the reintroduction of earmarks.

“We need to completely change the way business is done in Washington,” Kingston said, “a return to the days of pork-barrel spending would be a huge step backwards.”

Kingston’s comments fit with remarks made by now-outgoing Arizona U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who last January quipped that “you can’t drain the swamps by feeding the alligators pork,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s anti-lobbyist-and-backroom-deal “drain the swamp” campaign mantra.  

“We don’t need more cronyism and sweeteners to get things done for the American people,” Kingston added in his statement. “What we need are more leaders in Washington who will put results for their state and the country above their own political fortunes.

“Our party must stand for common sense fiscal leadership and that is why I am urging Republican leaders in Congress to abandon plans to consider a return of earmarks.”

Massachusetts currently has an all-Democratic Congressional delegation.