Chairperson Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT-03), leader of the House Appropriations Committee, said last Friday the committee is bringing back “earmarks,” according to a report by Jeff Davis of The Eno Group.

“Earmarks refer to projects directed to specific locations by Members of Congress,” he wrote. “Earmarks will now be referred to as ‘Community Project Funding.’”

Earmarks fell out of favor in the early 2000s, in part because some questionable projects led to criticism by the media, watchdog groups, anti-growth activists, and others, but they can be beneficial. “Elected officials often have first-hand insights about high-priority highway projects and other vitally important public works projects,” explained Leif Wathne. “When used in the spirit of prioritizing needs set forth by state DOTs and other local agencies, they can be beneficial to the traveling public, agencies, and stakeholders.”

It is worth noting that current Republican conference rules in the Senate prohibit requests for earmarks, and a shift toward earmarking should ideally have bicameral, bipartisan support.

In related news, T&I Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today announced the Committee will provide an opportunity for Members of Congress to submit requests for highway and transit project designations. The new submission process being announced today allows more direct Member engagement on critical infrastructure projects that are consistent with State and local infrastructure plans.

A formal process to do so will be announced later this month.

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