Political News

Trump floats bringing earmarks back, lawmakers laugh

Posted January 9, 2018 1:21 p.m. EST

— President Donald Trump said Tuesday said Democrats and Republicans should consider bringing back earmarks to make passing legislation easier.

"Maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks," Trump said, leading many of the lawmakers to laugh.

The comment came during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers dealing with immigration reform on Tuesday at the White House.

"This system really lends itself to not getting along. It lends itself to hostility and anger, they hate the Republicans, they hate the Democrats," the President said.

Earmarks have long been targeted as examples of unnecessary spending, historically used by lawmakers to bring government money back to specific projects in their home states. Leadership used to woo votes on legislation by offering up the monetary carve outs in exchange for support.

Trump reiterated that he would want to put "better controls" on a new earmark system, but that lawmakers should "think about it."

The Senate voted to force members to disclose requests for earmarks in 2007. The measure passed 98-0.

The House banned the practice six years ago after they became a target of ire among conservatives.

House Republicans, after considering bringing back earmarks earlier this year, put a stop to the conversation at the behest of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who successfully lobbied his Republican colleagues to postpone a vote to bring back the measures.

"We just had a 'drain the swamp' election," Ryan told members at the time, according to a GOP source in the room. "Let's not just turn around and bring back earmarks two weeks later."