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Infrastructure Funding and Earmarks?

The next congressional action will be on an infrastructure and jobs package. President Biden has already begun meeting with senators of both parties to discuss potential proposals on physical infrastructure upgrades, rural broadband internet and renewable energy investment. In a move that could ease negotiations on an infrastructure bill, House Appropriations Chair DeLauro and Senate Appropriations Chair Leahy plan to restore lawmaker-directed spending, known as earmarks, which Congress banned a decade ago. The practice allows lawmakers to insert funding for pet projects into legislation and is seen as a useful tactic to get members to back large ambitious bills, but it has been the source of scandal and abuse by some lawmakers.

Transportation and Infrastructure Chair DeFazio, who will have primary jurisdiction over the infrastructure bill, has said he will also bring back earmarks. Chair DeLauro plans to release details about reinstating earmarks in the coming weeks and it will include more transparency and limits on the total dollar amounts and recipients.

Republicans are already mobilizing to oppose earmarks, though most efforts will be largely symbolic while they are in the minority. Senator Daines (R-MT) said Tuesday that he plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit the special funding allocations in the Senate. Each chamber sets its own rules regarding earmarks.