- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 11, 2018

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan says he worries his colleagues will sink into the worst days pork-barrel spending if they restore the practice of earmarks.

Speaking to C-SPAN in an interview to be aired Friday morning, Mr. Ryan said he doesn’t fear it will hurt Republicans’ electoral chances, but said they must be wary of the abuses of the past.

“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t go back to pork barrel spending,” the speaker told C-SPAN Political Editor Steve Scully.

He continued: “I worry it would lead to bad government.”

Earmarks are the money lawmakers tuck into bills to direct money to their pet projects back in their states and districts. At their peak, they were just 1 percent of federal spending — but the abuses accounted for an outsized amount of bad press for Capitol Hill.

The Washington Times found instances of earmarks meant for an east coast state ending up in California, and local governments being given more money than they asked for — or knew how to use.

The most famous earmark was the Bridge to Nowhere, which would have directed hundreds of millions of dollars to build a bridge to an Alaskan island with a population of 50 people — and a ferry service already in place.

One congressman went to jail for selling earmarks.

Congress gave up earmarks in 2011, when the GOP retook control of the House, and Mr. Ryan headed off an effort to restore them in 2016.

But Mr. Ryan said he now hears concerns from his troops that they lost power over spending decisions.

The House will hold hearings on the issue next week.

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