ANCHORAGE DAILY PLANET
Sen. Lisa Murkowski says it is time to bring back now-barred congressional earmarks. When she is right she is right.
Congressional earmarks were a way years ago for lawmakers to direct or append funds to legislation for specific projects, circumventing the executive branch. They are immensely helpful for smaller states and communities that easily can be overlooked in the legislative process.
Unfortunately, they sometimes were misused – trading votes for project money – by some in Congress although that funding accounted for less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Democrats and Republicans alike, fearing voter backlash, spun earmarks into the devil’s own work. Opponents likened them to pork barrel spending.
President Barack Obama, with acquiescence from members of both parties, killed earmarks, declaring in 2011 he would sign no legislation containing them. Republicans banned them when they took control.
What that did was ensure Burgville, U.S.A., did not get the federal funding or attention it needed to fix its sidewalks because members of the executive branch in Washington, D.C., have no idea where Burgville is or what its problems or needs may be. Nor, in large part, do they care.
But Burgville’s House member or senator surely does, and when they were cut out of the funding loop it did smaller areas of the nation little good.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, KTUU reports, told a recent Commonwealth North luncheon that needs to end.