- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Senate Republicans voted Tuesday to reimpose a ban on earmarks in the new Congress that just began, meaning lawmakers will once again be prevented from slipping their favored pork projects into bills.

Some senators had been agitating to try to cut back on the ban and allow some earmarking, but in the end the GOP conference voted to renew the total prohibition that’s been in place for six years now.

“The successful vote to extend the earmark moratorium is an encouraging sign that Senate Republicans are serious about making a dent in our nearly $20 trillion national debt,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican who pushed to keep the ban in place.

He said the vote was conducted by voice, so it’s not clear how widespread opposition was.

Now that Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House, some lawmakers have argued it’s time to revisit the ban and trim it back. They said Capitol Hill has ceded too much power to the presidency, and said reclaiming the power of the purse is a way to push back.

But earmark opponents say that when earmarks were allowed, they created myriad problems for Congress, including landing one lawmaker in jail and others facing accusations of using earmarks to advance their careers or their personal wealth.

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