In a televised bipartisan meeting with lawmakers on Tuesday, President Donald Trump suggested that Congress should return to a system of earmarking legislation, a much-maligned practice common in the 1990s and 2000s that became synonymous with government waste and corruption.
"I hear so much about earmarks and how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks," Trump told the gathered lawmakers. "Of course they had other problems, but maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks."
President Trump: “Maybe all of you should starting thinking about going back to a form of earmarks,” says the current system “really lends itself to not getting along.” pic.twitter.com/C5NjdN27jV— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) January 9, 2018
Also known as "pork barrel spending," earmarks are language added to legislation by lawmakers to obtain funds for their home states and districts for special projects, often to appease donors or corporate interests.
Trump's remarks came as Republicans on the House Rules Committee are preparing to hold hearings later this month on earmarks, with Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) telling Politico, "There's really an interest in both parties to reclaim these powers back to Congress."
The president and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders both said that "controls" should be used to prevent misuse of a new earmarks system, but critics were not convinced of this on Tuesday, with many journalists pointing out that Trump's advocacy for earmarks is another betrayal of his campaign promise to "drain the swamp" and rid Washington of corruption.
Trump just issued a full-throated endorsement of earmarks.— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) January 9, 2018
Candidate Trump: I’m going to drain the swamp.— Victor Blackwell CNN (@VictorBlackwell) January 9, 2018
President Trump: Maybe we should bring back earmarks.
You mean the earmarks that are the hallmark of corrupt governance?— Alan Ladwig (@SpaceArtAl) January 9, 2018
Donald Trump is a hand grenade.— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 9, 2018
He is going to go to Washington and [checks notes] sign a corporate tax cut and endorse comprehensive immigration reform as well as bringing back earmarks??