The future of House-initiated congressional earmarks may be in jeopardy this year. The soon-to-be Speaker of the House, Congressman John Boehner, has announced he will seek to impose a moratorium on congressional earmarks, which are projects funded by individual members in one of the 12 appropriations bills passed by Congress every year. Boehner's announcement to impose a moratorium on all earmarks in the House of Representatives must be approved by the Members of the House Republican Conference ("Conference"). As the majority party, House Republicans will control the agenda beginning January 3, 2011, so if the proposed moratorium is passed by the Conference, it will last at least through 2011 and bar any House-initiated earmarks for the Fiscal Year 2012 spending bills.
The landscape in the Senate is much different. First, Democrats will remain in the majority in the Senate and no discussions have taken place to end earmarks. In fact, Senator Mitch McConnell, a senior Republican and the current Minority Leader in the Senate, voiced his opposition to any moratorium in a speech to the Heritage Foundation earlier this week.
Our bipartisan federal lobbying team in our Washington, DC office is watching the issue closely and is in discussions with key congressional leaders to stay on top of the issue.