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Boehner Warns of Consequences for GOP Members Seeking Earmarks

Minority Leader John Boehner on Wednesday warned House Republicans that anyone who ignores the Conference-wide earmark ban and fails to withdraw their earmark requests will risk losing their committee assignments next year.

“If you don’t withdraw your requests, it will be a matter for the Steering Committee to consider,” the Ohio Republican told Members during a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference, according to several GOP sources inside the room.

The House Republican Steering Committee is charged with assigning committee posts.

House Republicans adopted a one-year earmark ban in March that barred all earmarks — including those that are programmatic or authorizing requests.

Boehner reminded Members that leadership issued guidance shortly after the ban was adopted that instructed them to file letters withdrawing any earmark requests that had previously been submitted.

Boehner’s warning comes a week after Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) sent letters to 116 Republicans asking whether he should disregard their requests for projects in the Water Resources Development Act. Oberstar said he had not yet received withdrawal letters from most Republicans.

In preparation for a new WRDA bill, 354 House Members — including 120 Republicans — submitted project requests to the committee last summer.

The WRDA bill includes projects such as dam and levee replacements, beach replenishment, drainage upgrades and water treatment facilities. Committee staff said this spring that there were about 5,000 Democratic project requests and about 1,500 Republican project requests submitted overall.

House Republican aides accused Oberstar of trying to score cheap political points, saying Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member John Mica (R-Fla.) had received letters from most of the 120 Republicans who submitted requests asking that their projects be removed from the bill, and Mica was planning to deliver those letters to Oberstar.

Only a handful of Republican Members have said they will submit requests for earmarks in spite of the ban and have filed earmark requests with the House Appropriations Committee — including Reps. Anh “Joseph” Cao (La.), Henry Brown (S.C.), Don Young (Alaska) and Ron Paul (Texas).

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