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Unpublished Paper
Note: The Case for Earmarks
ExpressO (2015)
  • Chelsea Fernandez Gold, American University Washington College of Law

Americans’ confidence in Congress has sunk to historical lows and it seems that dysfunction and ineptitude remain at an all-time high. But it is not just the public that is frustrated with Washington’s failures; it is members of the political elite themselves. While the dysfunction plaguing the Capitol can be attributed to any number of factors, it is the contention of this paper that one way to "fix" Washington is to end the ban on earmarks. The termination of earmarks in Congress, and their ultimate shift over to the executive branch, has contributed to the ineffectiveness of the legislature and its inability to write and pass meaningful solutions to the nation’s problems. Part II of this paper will seek to define earmarks, explain their importance to the political process, and illustrate their prolonged history culminating with their demise in 2011. Part III will then illustrate how the elimination of earmarks has led to a decline in policy-making in Congress by (1) examining the impact of the earmark ban on the appropriations process through an analysis of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (“Labor-H”) appropriations bill and (2) demonstrating that the newfound role of the executive only exacerbates Congress’ dysfunction through an assessment of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant program. Based on that analysis, Parts IV and V will recommend and conclude that reinstating earmarks may be just the thing to fix Washington.

  • public policy,
  • earmarks,
  • pork barrel spending,
  • appropriations,
  • budget,
  • executive branch,
  • legislation
Publication Date
July 1, 2015
Citation Information
Chelsea Fernandez Gold. "Note: The Case for Earmarks" ExpressO (2015)
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