CEI Joins Coalition Urging Congress to Reject the Restoration of Earmarks

Photo Credit: Getty

Dear Member of Congress,

On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our millions of members and supporters from across the country, we urge you to reject the proposed restoration of earmarks being considered by House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).  Earmarks are one of the most corrupt, inequitable, and wasteful practices in the history of Congress.  Dressing them up as “member-directed spending” will not change anything.

Since 1991, according to Citizens Against Government Waste’s Congressional Pig Book, there have been 111,417 earmarks costing taxpayers $375.7 billion, including $67.9 billion since the earmark moratorium was adopted in 2011.  In 2006, one year after the 2005 highway bill had $24 billion in earmarks, including the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, appropriations earmarks totaled a record $29 billion.  That was also the year Republicans lost the majority in the House of Representatives, followed soon thereafter by the incarceration of members of Congress, staff, and lobbyists as a result of the corruption associated with earmarks. 

The inequitable and power-driven distribution of earmarks is demonstrated by the inclusion of the names of members of Congress who obtained earmarks in the appropriations bills during the 111th Congress.  The 81 House and Senate appropriators, making up 15 percent of Congress, were responsible for 51 percent of the earmarks and 61 percent of the money.  Proponents of earmarks argue that they would promote the passage of appropriations bills in a timely manner, but this is proven false by the fact that appropriations bills have been enacted on time in only four years since the passage of the 1974 Budget Act.  In fact, they waste the taxpayers’ money as a form of “legalized bribery,” under which a few million dollars in earmarks are traded for votes in favor of hundreds of billions of dollars in spending.  It makes no sense to believe that earmarks, which never constituted more than 1 percent of discretionary spending, would drive or control agreement on the remaining 99 percent of such spending.

Earmarks are a lazy, unfair, and corrupt way to circumvent the authorization and appropriations process. They are not a path to unity; they are a road to fiscal ruin for taxpayers.

The American people have made it clear they want business as usual to end in Washington.  Earmarks for teapot museums, indoor rainforests, and bridges to nowhere should not be restored; they should be permanently banned. 

Again, we urge you to be fiscally responsible and oppose any proposal to restore earmarks.


Tom Schatz
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Grover Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Tim Phillips
President, Americans for Prosperity      

Pete Sepp
President, National Taxpayers Union

David McIntosh
President, Club for Growth

Adam Brandon
President, FreedomWorks

Phil Kerpen
President, American Commitment

David Williams
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Steve Ellis
President, Taxpayers for Common Sense

Jessica Anderson
Executive Director, Heritage Action for America

George Landrith
President, Frontiers of Freedom

Saulius “Saul” Anuzis
President, 60 Plus Association

James L. Martin
Founder/Chairman, 60 Plus Association

Myron Ebell
Director, Center on Energy and Environment, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Bethany Marcum
Chief Executive Officer, Alaska Policy Forum

Jeffrey Mazzella
President, Center for Individual Freedom

James Taylor
President, The Heartland Institute

Kevin Waterman
Chair, Maryland Center-Right Coalition Meeting

Matthew Gagnon
Chief Executive Officer, Maine Policy Institute