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House GOP Still Requesting Earmarks

Updated: 6:06 p.m.

Several House Republicans have projects included on a list of 2011 earmark requests released by the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, just two weeks after the GOP Conference adopted a one-year moratorium on the spending practice.

But the Members listed are raising questions about whether their requests actually count as earmarks under the new ban, adopted by Republicans on March 11.

Republican Reps. Henry Brown (S.C.), Anh “Joseph” Cao (La.), Ron Paul (Texas), Bill Posey (Fla.), Bill Young (Fla.) and Don Young (Alaska) are among the lawmakers requesting funding for specific projects on the Appropriations Committee list.

Several Members on the list suggested that the issue comes down to what the definition of an earmark is.

Posey’s office said he submitted a single request in support of the president’s budget request for an Air Force base, which doesn’t count as an earmark. Later Wednesday, a Posey spokesman said the Congressman withdrew the request.

Brown said in a statement to Roll Call that he decided to only request funding for “immediately necessary Army Corps of Engineer projects” out of respect for the Republican Conference’s decision.

“While my requests do not guarantee funding for these projects, it is guaranteed that these projects will not be funded without Congressional action,” he said. “If Charleston Harbor is not maintained and expanded to accommodate larger container ships, 260,800 South Carolina jobs will become endangered. Similarly, failure to perform emergency dredging of the Georgetown Harbor will prevent four new companies from using the harbor and creating 128 new jobs in my Congressional District.”

He said, “I understand that our country faces a fiscal crisis; and for this reason, I have requested that other portions of the Federal Budget be decreased by at least an amount equivalent to the cost of the requested projects.”

Bill Young has made only one request, and his office explained that it is for a military construction project, which Armed Services ranking member Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said does not count as an earmark.

The project is for a parking structure at the U.S. Central Command facility in Tampa, which is outside Young’s district. According to Young’s office, the facility is undergoing significant expansion, and during the construction, employees have been forced to park off-base and shuttle to the facility, which is a security risk. Gen. David Petraeus had asked Young for an appropriation to speed up by about two years the construction of a parking facility inside the fence line, said Young spokesman Harry Glenn.

Since the project is included in the military’s construction plans, Young’s office says it fits within the earmark exemption that McKeon circulated last week.

As of Wednesday morning, Young had not yet posted a description of the project on his Web site, but he was in the process of doing so.

Cao’s Web site said he is accepting earmark requests but no specific projects are listed on the site.

Paul’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Don Young told an Alaska newspaper shortly after the ban was imposed that he would not adhere to it.

“I am elected to serve my constituents, and as long as they continue to request federal funding for their projects of interest, then I will continue to do my best to accommodate them,” Young said in a statement.

Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) was included on the Appropriations Committee list Wednesday morning, but his name was removed because he wrote letters in support of programs but did not request any specific funding, thus the requests do not count as earmarks.

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