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House Republicans Will Consider Bringing Back Earmarks

The House Republican Conference will vote Thursday on whether to bring back some earmarks in the 113th Congress.

Rep. Don Young of Alaska, a longtime supporter of earmarks, will offer an amendment at the House GOP organizational meeting that would change the rules of the GOP Conference to allow members to bring earmarks with some conditions.

The rules would ban earmarks, “except if the recipient of the earmark is the Federal Government, a State, or a unit of local government, the Member sponsoring such earmark is identified, the earmark is initiated in committee, and the earmark falls within the applicable section 302(a) allocation,” according to a summary of the amendment shared with Roll Call.

“He’s always been a supporter of earmarks,” a Young aide said. “It’s Congress’ job to appropriate money and the congressman doesn’t believe that agencies are on the ground enough and are able to see the communities’ needs.”

Rep. Tim Scott, the GOP member of leadership from the class of 2010, said the amendment stands little chance of passing but that eventually, he could see the definition of earmarks changing.

“We’re probably a Congress or two from being able to re-evaluate it honestly without too much thought being given to us trying to bring back pork barrel spending,” the South Carolinian said.

The conference will meet at 2 p.m. to vote on the amendment and a few others that would change the rules of the GOP Conference for the next Congress.

On the heels of a competitive campaign season for elected leadership, Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., will offer an amendment that would ban members from campaigning for elected leadership spots until 90 days before a general election.

“Soliciting for or giving a pledge of support prior to 90 days before the date of a general election shall be considered a breach of a Member’s personal honor,” the amendment reads.

The conference will also vote on a change to Republican term limits. An amendment from Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia would ensure that time spent as a ranking member of a committee or subcommittee would count only as half the time toward the mandatory three-term limit.

Two amendments would change how the Republican Steering Committee does business.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, who will be conference vice chairwoman in the 113th Congress, will offer an amendment to require the regional and class representatives to the steering committee to be chosen by secret ballot.

Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, meanwhile, will offer an amendment that would require the steering committee to review all appointments each Congress and would require each member to apply for assignments each year.

His amendment would also make the steering committee base each appointment, including committee chairmanships, on “merit including such factors as knowledge, attendance, participation, and judgment.”

“I believe it is important to consider merit, not just seniority, as part of the committee selection process,” Stivers said in an email. “To change Washington we need to start with ourselves and lead by example. America deserves the most qualified and engaged members of Congress to serve on its committees and make the tough decisions.”

Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington is offering an amendment that would create a permanent Committee on Health Care in order to attack President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas will also offer two amendments pertaining to upcoming votes Congress will have to take.

One amendment would ban leadership from bringing to the floor any continuing resolution or bill that raises the debt ceiling unless three-fifths of the conference approves the vote by secret ballot.

His second amendment would create a new Public Assistance Appropriations Subcommittee, which would “appropriate funds, rescind appropriated funds, or transfer unexpended balances with respect to any manner of public assistance or welfare, whether by direct payment or indirect benefit, that is conferred to any person in the United States.”

“You do what you think will be helpful to the country,” Gohmert said. “If it is making people upset but you’re trying to help the country, then you’re still doing the right thing.”

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