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The current discussion on earmarks

Updated on July 29, 2014

The term earmarks is raising its ugly head again in the confines of Congress and their return may be in future legislation. Earmarks by definition do not belong in any legislation enacted by Congress. Earmarks are basically amendments placed into legislation that have no chance of passing Congress on their own. Congress has certain authority and responsibilities as identified in the Constitution and earmarks in a way are actions which tend to be associated with events that may not be covered under the authority granted to Congress in the Constitution.

The return of the practice of including earmarks in legislation need to be rejected by all members of the legislative branch. The term earmark has been used in many instances where it does not belong with respect to actions being proposed by specific representatives or senators for their respective districts or states. Any action being presented by these individuals which has supporting data as to their need should not be labeled as an earmark. Many areas of our country and in some cases specific locations are in need of financial action by Congress. In some cases this involves the maintenance of our highways and or replacement of some of our bridges.

Amendments to legislation being proposed should meet specific criteria. The critical one being that it has a relationship to the actions included. If there is no connection to the topic covered by the legislation attempts to add them should be rejected in their entirety. The process of adding amendments to legislation being evaluated needs to be revised. I agree that amendments to legislation are more than likely needed to enhance the legislation. The key is to improve the integrity of the legislation by adding specific language which may give additional clarification as to the purpose of it and the actions identified.

Today legislative proposals and the integrity of them raise many questions. Legislation which has become law has in several cases met with resistance by the public. The integrity of the legislative process in Congress needs to be a part of the process and including what are accurately deemed to be earmarks degrades the integrity of the legislation being proposed.

The current culture in Congress is one of dysfunctional nature as it is difficult if not impossible for both legislative bodies to agree on solutions to anything. This is a proven fact. Legislative integrity should start by validating the problem and proposing solutions based on the impact of the proposals not opinion of how it will aide in resolving the issue involved. Once proposals are initiated both houses of Congress need to come together for the good of the people and the country regardless of which party has the solution. Earmarks should never be utilized to push something through by attaching it to legislation which has no connection.


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