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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 1, 2021 7:30pm-7:57pm EST

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house democrats are resurrecting the practice ending a decade-long prohibition on congressional suspended. hear hismm remarks. >> the appropriations committee is reported here in the senate to prepare to announce the return of earmarks. this is a process around here we know, the people back home might not know. so let me explain that the process of earmarks inserts individual projects designated for specific interest into a bill most often an appropriations bill. when i say individual projects it means senators doing it for probably their district or
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state. earmarks are a practice that have become a symbol to the americaner people of the waste and out-of-control spending in washington. i am strongly against the return of earmarks. the earmark moratorium was implemented as a direct result of the events leading up to the election of 2010. there is clearly a mandate coming from that 2010 election to do away with earmarks. : : elections or through contacting congress they don't have an impact. in this case, it had a very dramatic impact that has lasted at least until now, and at least until now, and hopefully it lasts longer. the american people spoke because theyor were worried at
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that time about the countries growing federal deficit and ballooning public debt. something we are not as concerned about now as we were then and we ought to be more concerned about now because the debt has more than doubled during that period of time. at that time, back in 2010, it was estimated 62% of those gross domestic product. in 2009, president obama and congressional democrats passed a $780 billion stimulus bill that was filled with wasteful spending, special projects and unauthorized programs that were completely violated the rules of the road for responsible governors. in september 2010, so at the
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time of the election i am talking about, the rasmussen poll, 61% of the u.s. voters said cutting government spending and deficit would do more toro create jobs then president obama's proposed $50 million infrastructure program. pretty evident then, from people's opinion at that time, the election of 2010 sent a clear message that the american people wanted congress to stop wasteful spending. so, it did not take long for president obama to get the message. a weekly address on november 13, 2010, calling upon congress to stop earmarks. he said "given the deficits that have mounted over the past
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decade, we cannot afford to make these investments in things like infrastructure, education, research and development, unless we are willing to cut what we don't need". i am going to give you a further obama quote. it is a very long one. it is coming from a democrat president. "i agree with those republicans and democratic members of congress who recently said that in these challenging days, we cannot afford what are called earmarks, those are items inserted into spending bills by members of congress without adequate review". now, some of these earmarks support worthy projects in commy others do not.
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we cannot afford bridges to nowhere like the one that was planted a few years back in alaska. earmarks like these represent a relatively small portion of overall federal spending, but, when it comes to signaling our commitmentin to fiscal responsibility, addressing them would have an important impact. we have a chance to not only shine a light on a bad washington habit that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but take a step towards restoring public trust. we have a chance to advance the interest, not only republicans or democrats, but of the american people to put our
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country on a path of fiscal discipline and responsibility that will lead a brighter economic future for all and that is a future that i hope i can reach across party lines to build to gather. remember president obama said, in 2010, earmarks are bad. unlike 2020, today, we are in even more abysmal fiscal shape with even larger federal deficits and a ballooning federal debt. according to the congressional budget office, the federal debt held by the public stood at 100%
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of gdp at the end of fiscal year 2020 and has projected to reach 102% of gdp at the end of 2021. in other words, even though we have the largest economy in the world, we owe more than the entire u.s. economy is producing in a year. if we stay on this course, by 2031, debt would equal 107% of gdp. the highest in the nation's history. america cannot afford to go back to including earmarks and some ill-conceived effort to grease the wheels to pass legislation only because it includes the projects of members of congress. a small part of the budget and i
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would have to admit, earmarks are a small part of the budget. earmarks can cause members of congress to focus on projects from their district or state instead of holding government accountable and being fiscally responsible. congress should follow regular order by authorizing funding for programs withcr very specific criteria. legislation, including funding bills should be passed on its merits, not on whether an earmark is included. doctor tom, former senator from oklahoma said "earmarks are the gateway drug to spending addiction". there is an insatiable appetite
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for projects and this leads to large bills weighed down with spending our country can ill afford. whether we are talking about appropriations or authorization bills. a congressional research service, crs as we know it, studies from 1994-2011, there was a 282% jump in earmarks and appropriation bills. in the fiscal year 1994, appropriation bills, appropriations bill, there were 4155, and can you believe this, by 2011, that number had risen earmarks to 15,887.
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the total value of earmarked funds increased from about $35 billion for 6000 earmarks in 2002 over $72 billion for nearly 16,000 earmarks in 2006. earmarks get out of control where there is no effective check on total spending, while at the same time, earmarks lead to overspending, committee chairman, time to say to the members that have earmarks and bills, are you going to vote for this appropriation bill, put your earmark in. that should never be a determination of whether they hold and appropriation bill or not. you should not feel pressured to support a vicious cycle of
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increase spending on bad legislation just because it includes earmarks. especially in this time of a pandemic. congress should be forced on targeted spending to continue to helper the people or suffering o recover not finding ways to then load up a bill with sweeteners that may be problematic on its own. according to a 2016 economist group, 63% of americans approve the ban on earmarks. only 12% disapprove. this quote by citizens gives government waste president, in publication, it makes a
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strong argument for not lifting the earmark ban. he said earmarks are the most corrupt, costly and inequitable practice in the history of congress. they led to members, lobbyists being incarcerated. people went to jail because of how some t of the stuff was handled. in the form of legalized bribery members of congress vote for tens orop hundreds of billions f dollars of appropriation bills in return for a few million dollars in earmarks for their state or congressional district. earmarks go to those in power. as shown during the 100 11th congress when the 81 members of the house and senate
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appropriations committees hill constituted 15% of the congress route 51% of the earmarks and 61% of the money restoring earmarksea will lead to the same result. i have heard the argument that earmarks are needed to pass bills in a bipartisan manner. ranked among the most bipartisan senators by the georgetown university center. check it out for yourself. i know from experience. true bipartisanship does not come from voting for legislation that i may otherwise have concerns about because i of the earmark included in the bill. truehi bipartisanship comes from reaching out across the aisle.
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to reach consensus. even when there are disagreements on other issues. those other issues to really get things done for the american people. and i will hundred and you're a speech, calling for "bringing americans together". he also recognized that americans have serious disagreements. everyone knows that our country is deeply divided politically. i know from his time in the senate that president biden understands that people of goodwill can have honest disagreements about policy. he knows it does not mean dropping deeply held beliefs and accepting his policy agenda. he said "every disagreement does
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not have to be a cause for total war, disagreements must not lead to disunion". real unity requires true bipartisanship. working together to discover what binds us together as americans even when we strongly disagree politically. earmarks are not a way to bring this unity. in fact, it will make more difficult by attempting to pay for fundamental disagreements with windowdressing by bypassing their real work of compromise. now, some people think earmarks are needed to help pass bills in a timely manner. in 2006, at the height of
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earmark spending and appropriation bills, only to two appropriation bills passed on time. the 10 years prior to the earmark band, congress never enacted more than four standalone appropriation bills on time. this holds true for reauthorization bills as well. as you know, we just simply extend them. one fiscal year at a time. in the case of the past several highway reauthorization bills, which are notorious for earmarks , all needed multiple extensionsaw before they were signed into law. i have also heard the argument article one of the constitution says, congress holds the power to the purse and congress is seated its own power without
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earmarks. i agreed that congress now cedes its own power, but not by not having earmarks. congress sees the power by failing to follow the budget process and stick to a budget. the greatest sin, congress can be fairly accused of lazy legislation by drafting provisions, granting congress, granting authority to agency heads to work out the details. most of those details are worked out through regulation writing. congress can reclaim its legislative authority by including specific guidelines for implementing programs and both authorization and appropriation bills. congress should regularly review
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federal programs to make sure that funding criteria reflect the needs of americans and engage in robust oversight and departments and agencies to ensure congressional intent is met. rigorous oversight. well drafted legislation that sets out intent for how a program should be administered is the constitutional job of congress. a good example of congress not keeping the power of the purse and delegating significant authority to elected bureaucrats at the program level is the affordable care act. sometimes called obamacare. running through congress on a roll. their regulatory implementation of obamacare required well over 20,000 pages.
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that iso a bad way to implement public policy, particularly considering it directed one fifth of the u.s. economy. on top of the law are tens of thousands of federal rules and regulations administered by a score of agencies andrd boards. this is not how our founding fathers envisioned congress protecting the american people and it is a bad way to do business. as a matter of fairness, earmark project funding should be merit-based. and competitive. competitive by formula. earmarks undermine state decision-making or funds that are allocated to formula -based grants.
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clinical decisions should not preempt state regional decision-making. earmarks should not be a shortcut fornd state and local government engaging in a long-termg plan and budgeting fr anticipated needs. furthermore, state and local governments and other organizations should not be spending time and money to hire lobbyists to chase after federal dollars in hopes of getting an earmark. the money spent on lobbying and travel pursue and earmark to be applied to the local project itself. a federal agency or program is not working, then members of congress should fix it instead of seeking a carveout, highway authorizesfe should bills are perfectly good example of the problems of earmarks. in 1987, president reagan lee
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gold the transportation bill because of, guess what, too many earmarks. that bill included only 152 earmarks. in 1998, the transportation bill called t 21 included 1850 earmarks. the state of florida challenged the earmarks including for the state argued that the allocated funding did not address the transportation needs of the state. the u.s. department of transportation overruled florida's objections. in 2005, i am going to another transportation bill, it was called the safety t lou, included 6371 earmarks. let's go g over that again.
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let's go back. 1987. president reagan vetoed the bill because of only 152 earmarks. ten years later, t 21 included 1851 earmarks and 2,056,371 earmarks. however, under the earmark ban, the last transportation bill distributed 92% of the findings of the states formulas. and then, you know, that gives states and local governments control of the funding decision based on the needs of the 50 different states. based on safety, engineering and other objective criteria as opposed to politically threateningd and earmark. totally swept aside those criteria. almost a political decision where that money ought to be put.
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it should also be pointed out that the majority of the earmark funds in the past straight 10 out of the allocated formula dollars for each state which is further eroded, merit and state and local decision-making. in other words, politicians were making decisions that are made by the nonpartisan boards in state capitals and local communities. when i say nonpartisan boards, i don't suppose it's that way in all 50 states. i know in most midwestern states, it is that way. i know that a lot of good has come from projects that i have help support in iowa. when we had our earmarks. i certainly did not want iowa to miss out on funding just because of the dysfunction that we call
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earmarks. however, i also know that many of these earmarks disrupted our state and regional planning efforts. i have no way of knowing what good may have been done had we not had earmarks ban earlier. i do know that i have faith that the federal money that goes back for iowans and the iowans decide how it be spent is being spent thoughtfully and well. that was a lot of political consideration. any good that may come from my being able to direct small amount of federal taxpayer dollars to some worthwhile pilot project would be dogged by the negative effects of restarting
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the mad scramble. i hope that my colleagues, the rumors i've been hearing, about the appropriations committee wanting to reinstitute earmarks, ien hope that those people would pay some attention to the history of it and particularly pay attention to what president obama said in 2010 about earmarks. not go through another process. maybe start with just a few earmarks. ending up with more than several years, more than 10,000 earmarks in various appropriation bills and then all of a sudden have a mandate that came from the electorate like it did in 2010 and most republicans and democrats come back to these halls where we make policy saying no more earmarks. >> today the senate confirmed --
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to become the secretary. passing the coronavirus relief bill. watch live coverage here on c-span2. >> johnson & johnson covid-19 vaccine was boxed up and shipped from a distribution facility in shepherdsville kentucky just days after it was approved for emergency use. this is the third vaccine that will now be available to the public. unlike the pfizer and moderna vaccine, it only requires one dose per person.


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