I have consistently made the argument that earmarks exist to serve political ends. Well, here is the latest example. Each of the conference reports for the Defense, Labor/HHS, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs spending bills have earmarks “airdropped” into them.
“Airdropping” is a way of adding earmarks to a bill during the conference report process at the last possible minute, effectively shielding the earmarks from reproach due to the lack of time for review before a vote on the floor. Many times, these reports are hundreds of pages in length and Members simply cannot thoroughly examine every page in less than 24 hours. This is a deliberate tactic to spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money with complete anonymity and zero accountability. I have vocally opposed this practice as have many of my colleagues on both the House and Senate side.
However, despite the outcry from House Members and Senators, 54 earmarks worth $85 million have been added to conference reports for the three spending bills I listed above. Out of those 54 earmarks, 12 were sponsored by Freshman House Members or Senators in their first terms and 9 were requested and signed off by Senators up for re-election this year.
Coincidence or not?