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.”
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.