Toomey warns GOP colleagues to stay away from earmarks

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on Wednesday declared he will not seek earmarks if Congress resumes the practice of padding spending bills with pet projects to boost their chances of passing, and the Pennsylvania senator warned GOP colleagues not to participate either.

“Earmarks send federal money to projects not based upon merit, but politics. One of the few positive actions Congress has taken to combat wasteful spending in the past decade is to swear off earmarks,” Toomey said Wednesday, referring to the ban on earmarks adopted by the Senate and House GOP conferences in 2010.

House Republicans voted last month to reverse their conference-wide earmark ban, and Senate Republicans are considering following suit.

Toomey on Wednesday urged his Senate GOP colleagues not to go down that road.

“I have no intention of participating in any earmark process and will continue to urge my Senate Republican colleagues to do the same,” he said.

Republican members of the Senate Appropriations Committee met Monday evening to discuss whether to bring back earmarks.

Senior Republicans on the panel emerged from the meeting saying they hadn’t reached a consensus position but predicted their conference will decide to let individual members make their own choices about whether to request earmarks.

The subject of returning to earmarks is divisive within the Senate Republican Conference.

Only two years ago, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) successfully pushed for his Republican colleagues to adopt an amendment permanently banning earmarks in the 116th Congress and beyond.

“The last thing taxpayers need is for the same politicians who racked up a $22 trillion national debt to go on an earmark binge,” Sasse said in May of 2019, after Senate Republicans adopted the permanent ban.

Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), an influential conservative, criticized the House Republicans’ decision to return to earmarks, calling it a “mindboggling bad decision.”

“Handing power to [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, [Senate Majority Leader Charles] Schumer and [President] Biden to buy GOP votes for amnesty, big spending, tax hikes, green new deal and more,” he tweeted last month. “Culture of corruption is back in business.”

Tags Ben Sasse earmarks Pat Toomey

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