CL – Cochran defends earmarks

As the nation edges nearer the 2010 midterm congressional elections, there comes the predictable condemnations of the practice of congressional earmarks.

An earmark, or “congressionally directed appropriation,” provides funding for particular projects at the request of a member of Congress. Good government advocates blast the practice, but whether Democrats or Republicans are in power, the process remains the same.

During election years, members of both parties, particularly those in the minority, will talk tough about limiting or doing away with earmarks. The latest salvo has been an exchange between U.S. House Democrats and House Republicans. Democrats first pledged to impose a ban on earmarks that benefit private for-profit companies.

House Republicans raised the ante by pledging not to seek any earmarks this year. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, denounced all of the line-item expenditures as wasteful and evidence of “a broken Washington.”

According to the nonpartisan watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, House Republicans accounted for more than 1,200 of the earmarks worth $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2010.