Yesterday, the House GOP Conference rejected an earmark ban.
Directed spending is not deficit spending. Directed spending falls within the topline spending targets set by the budget committees each year and is just another means by which Congress decides its yearly spending priorities. In FY22, it accounted for less than 1 percent of discretionary spending or less than 0.3 percent of all federal spending. This constitutes only about a third as much directed spending as compared to the period before the earmark moratorium was imposed in 2011.
Under new reforms first recommended by the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, members must provide evidence of community support in their spending requests. Moreover, one key reform bans any funding for private entities. This helps ensure requests are truly needed within the district and has shifted directed spending decisions away from the defense industry and toward local needs like transportation, health care, and education. In fact, according to the General Accountability Office, 77 percent of all directed spending projects for FY22 went to state and local government, other non-profits and educational organizations.
Lastly, the public has never had a clearer view of how Congress makes directed spending decisions. The GAO is tasked with tracking direct spending to ensure funds are spent according to the will of Congress. All proposed spending must be posted on members’ websites while the Appropriations Committee maintains on its website one central repository of requested and approved spending for the entire House. The GAO has also created “Tracking the Funds” which goes further in-depth in analyzing directed spending.