Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Federal Funding

Earmark Ban Goes Down to Defeat in the Senate

The Senate just voted down the Republican proposal to ban earmarks.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was pressured to change his tune on earmarks but the ban still went down in defeat. Image: ##http://www.ipolitics.com/state/KY/653-kentucky_senator_mitch_mcconnell_calls_healthcare_bill_process_charade.htm##iPolitics##
false

The proposed ban was met with profound ambivalence in the transportation community. Some, like Rob Sadowsky, Executive Director of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, worried that a ban would remove a primary funding mechanism for bike-ped projects.

The day after the election, Sadowsky told BikePortland, “While earmark funding on surface appears to be a poor way of managing a democracy, our projects, particularly trail projects have historically done very well through earmarks.”

Meanwhile, other reformers say earmarks are wasteful because they’re not strategic. Rather than creating a national plan for targeted infrastructure projects that would link into a regional or national network, earmarks fund scattershot programs throughout the country. Those who call them “pork” say the primary strategy behind earmarks is to get members re-elected.

House Republicans have already given up earmarks, and pressure was high after the election to make it official. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was bullied into becoming a reluctant ban supporter.

The proposed ban needed a two-thirds majority to pass the Senate. It barely got one-third: the vote was 39 in favor to 56 against. Only seven Democrats voted for the ban, and only eight Republicans voted against it.

Some political observers noted the irony of Republicans pushing to remove a power lever from the legislative branch and handing it over to the executive branch. After all, if Congress doesn’t allocate the money, Obama-appointed agency officials will.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Gotcha-Heimer! Anti-Congestion Pricing Jersey Rep. With a City Speeding Ticket Drove to Manhattan on Wednesday

New Jersey's most vociferous opponent of congestion pricing parked illegally and once got a speeding ticket.

April 24, 2024

Under Threat of Federal Suit (Again!), City Hall Promises Action on ‘Unacceptable’ Illegal Police Parking

A deputy mayor made a flat-out promise to eliminate illegal police parking that violates the Americans With Disabilities Act. But when? How? We don't know.

April 24, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines: Four for Fifth Edition

The good news? There's a new operator for the Fifth Avenue open street. The bad news? It's four blocks, down from 15 last year. Plus other news.

April 24, 2024

MTA Plan to Run Brooklyn-Queens Train on City Streets a ‘Grave’ Mistake: Advocates

A 515-foot tunnel beneath All Faiths Cemetery would slightly increase the cost of the project in exchange for "enormous" service benefits, a new report argues.

April 24, 2024

Full Court Press by Mayor for Congestion Pricing Foe Randy Mastro

Pay no attention to that lawyer behind the curtain fighting for New Jersey, the mayor's team said on Tuesday, channeling the Wizard of Oz.

See all posts