WASHINGTON DC (LOORPRESS) – The return of Democrat control of Congress has marked the return of “earmarks” and two West Virginia Republicans are participating.
The former earmarks program, eliminated about a decade ago, provided a mechanism whereby congressional representatives could funnel funds to specific projects in their district.
Amid controversy about how the process was abused by some, it was eliminated in the name of transparency and fairness.
Some federal legislators became so powerful and adept at the process that media outlets began measuring their power by the amount of “pork barrel” projects funded through earmarks.
West Virginia’s late Senator, Democrat Robert C. Byrd, was widely proclaimed “Pork Barrel Bob” for his ability to bring funding to the state.
For years, those out of power complained that some representatives were using the system to “buy votes,” finally leading to its elimination.
With control of both houses of Congress returning to Democrats in January, both party caucuses voted to institute the new Community Project Funding (CPF) program. The first round of funding requests was made public a few weeks ago.
Both First District Congressman David McKinley and Third District Representative Carol Miller submitted funding requests. Second District Congressman Alex Mooney did not. Under the current procedures, the requests are made to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations.
Despite alleged past abuses, proponents of earmarks claim it is the job of elected representatives to support programs in their districts. They also maintain that these representatives are more familiar with their districts’ needs than “unelected bureaucrats” who made the decisions the past 10 years.
House members had until April 30 to submit up to ten proposed projects for consideration.
Transparency rules require they be listed on member Websites. The funding cycle begins October 1.
McKinley’s requests more than doubled Miller’s, from $2.7 million to more than $5.8 million.
Many requests involved healthcare, although infrastructure improvement projects also made up a large portion of requests. In fact, McKinley’s two largest individual requests were $1.4 for the New Martinsville water system and $1 million for the Weirton Frontier Crossing access road.
Although conservative Republicans have typically opposed these types of project funding, Miller basically voiced the position that her constituents should receive their “fair share” of all available funding.
McKinley, though a Republican, is often billed as the most moderate of the state’s congressional delegation. In fact, he is dubbed a “RINO” (“Republican in Name Only”) by many right wing Republicans.
Mooney, generally labeled as the most conservative, is philosophically opposed to earmarks.
Early on, Mooney’s staff issued this statement, “Congressman Mooney is not participating in requesting earmarks in the House of Representatives at this time. Our office will continue to advocate for West Virginia priorities in Congress during the regular appropriations process.
Please reach out to our office if we can be helpful with letters of support or help you navigate the federal government.”