Senate Republicans will meet April 21 to debate bringing back earmarks, a controversial tactic that hasn’t been used in a decade.
One month ago, the House GOP caucus voted in a secret ballot to remove a permanent ban on earmarks.
Democrats, who control both chambers, have already unveiled plans to bring back earmarks as "community project funding."
Republicans are fiercely divided over the practice. Some deem it wasteful and prone to corruption. Others say bringing back earmarks is necessary to stay even with Democrats, who brought back their own plan for earmarks rebranded as "community project funding." Last month’s Republican vote was split 102-84.
Some have said that without earmarks, the power of the purse is ceded to the president. "There's a real concern about the administration directing where money goes," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters after last month’s vote. "This doesn't add one more dollar. I think members here know what's most important about what's going on in their district, not Biden."
"Earmarks promote backroom deals that make lobbyists rich on the taxpayer's dime. They're a relic of the swampy politics that DC’s known for & one of the best things Congress did was get rid of them," Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., tweeted.
Daines and Cruz last month introduced their own bill to permanently ban earmarks again. Sens. Pat Toomey, Pa., Joni Ernst, Iowa, James Lankford, Okla., Mike Lee, Utah, Ron Johnson, Wisc., Marco Rubio, Fla., Rob Portman, Ohio, and Rand Paul, Ky., cosponsored the bill.
Senators view next week’s debate as largely symbolic - there is a ban on earmarks in the Senate GOP caucus, but caucus rules are non-binding.
Sens. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., all members of the appropriations committee, said that Republicans will still be able to request earmarks if Democrats bring them back, even if the current ban is kept in place.
The House GOP banned earmarks in 2011 amid the Tea Party wave, and the upper chamber followed suit under President Obama.