BY: Follow @LizWFB
Senate Republicans voted on Tuesday to keep a moratorium on earmarks during the 115th Congress.
An amendment to the Senate Republican Conference rules offered by Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.), a leading opponent of earmarks, passed by voice vote.
“Resolved, that it is the policy of the Republican Conference that no Member shall request a congressionally directed spending item, limited tax benefit, or limited tariff benefit, as such items are used in Rule XLIV of the Standing Rules of the Senate for the 115th Congress,” the amendment reads.
Though the self-imposed ban will remain in place, earmarks have found their way into the budget since congressional Republicans issued the moratorium in 2011.
Flake released a report in 2015 that found hundreds of millions had been spent on earmarks despite the ban. The earmarks funded pet projects for grape research and subsidies for a ballet theater in the richest congressional district in America, among other things.
Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonprofit taxpayer watchdog group, has also documented pork-barrel spending that has continued under the moratorium. Congress approved $5.1 billion in earmarks in fiscal 2016, the group found.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) unilaterally stopped the measure, saying it would be inappropriate to reinstate earmarks two weeks following a “drain the swamp” election.