Congressional “earmarks” are very controversial because of the wasteful spending of money on pet projects by members of Congress. On January 29, 2008, President George W. Bush signed Executive Order #13, 457 entitled, “Protecting American Taxpayers from Government Spending on Wasteful Earmarks.” The order specified that executive agencies “not to commit, obligate, or expend funds on the basis of earmarks, included in any non-statutory source…except when required by law….”
This order plugged a loophole whereby members of Congress put earmarks into committee reports. These report earmarks resulted in federal agencies paying for the wasteful projects even though they were not sanctioned by any law. This executive order ended that practice.
Congress still has the option of including earmarks in statutes (laws) or through reference legislative history documents. “Legislative history refers to the progress of a bill
through the legislative process and to the documents that are created during that process. Attorneys, judges, and others often turn to these documents to learn why Congress enacted a particular law or to aid in the interpretation of a law.”
Only Congress can stop the practice of inserting earmarks into laws or legislative history documents. The American people must be vigilant because the next Congressional session will reveal which members of Congress are truly interested in reforming this wasteful practice and which ones want to continue to waste taxpayers’ money.
Source: Congressional Research Service