Our nation’s legislative branch is stalemated on issue after issue, from the complexities of immigration reform to the housekeeping details of keeping the government from shutting down. Lawmakers have little incentive to compromise, buck their leadership, or work across party lines. President Trump has proposed a solution: Bring back earmarks.
Traditionally, legislators would attach spending projects to bills they wanted passed as a way to attract key votes. A Republican senator might approach two Democratic colleagues and say, “Vote for my bill, and I’ll add a rider that would build an air force base in your state.” All kinds of negotiations and deals were possible: “We need your vote for the tax reform bill. How about if we build a new federal building in your district? We’ll even name it after you.”