House Republicans this week unveiled a new set of rules aimed at tightening community project funding — better known as earmarks — as the party looks for ways to reduce discretionary spending amid debt limit talks.
The guidelines made public on Tuesday evening by the House Appropriations Committee, led by Chair Kay Granger (R-Texas), include plans to restrict earmarks spending in House appropriations bills from exceeding “one half of one percent of discretionary spending,” down from the 1 percent threshold set under the previous Congress.
The rules also include a crackdown on projects named for individuals or entities, with a ban on such funding for memorials, museums, and commemoratives, as well as a requirement for members to provide “a written statement describing the federal nexus for each Community Project Funding request.”
“In order to ensure a federal nexus exists for each funded project, the Committee will only fund projects that are tied to a federal authorization law,” the rules say.
In addition, the rules bar members from requesting earmark dollars in annual appropriations bills for the departments of Defense, Labor, and Health and Human Services, among others — a move that has already prompted pushback from Democrats.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement the new rules decrease “opportunities for members to help people in their districts and to meet urgent needs directly.”
DeLauro, who is also ranking member on the subcommittee that oversees funding for Labor and Health and Human Services, said more than 1,300 House projects were funded through the fiscal 2023 LHHS funding legislation, of which, she said “hundreds were requested by Republicans.”
“We are talking about health centers and organizations like the Cullman Regional Medical Center in Alabama, the Oklahoma Blood Institute, and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital,” she said. “We were able to help community colleges and other postsecondary institutions like the University of Miami, Texas A&M University, and Northeast Iowa Community College.”
The Hill has reached out to DeLauro’s office for comment.
The recent announcement comes as Republicans have ramped up calls for steep cuts in spending, with members pressing to use the nation’s debt limit as leverage to secure significant fiscal reform in talks with Democrats.