Remember that informal ban on earmarks lawmakers agreed to last year to great fanfare? Well, they’ve been doing their best to ignore it, the Washington Post reports. Lawmakers have tried to slap hundreds of earmarks on at least 10 bills this summer and fall. While some have insisted their additions aren’t technically earmarks because they allow companies to compete for the money, most are written so narrowly that they’re essentially the same thing.
In May, for example, lawmakers slapped 111 amendments onto a defense bill—and 59 had language essentially identical to previous earmarks. Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon obligingly set aside $1 billion for the projects, but they were shot down in an Appropriations subcommittee. Episodes like that have prompted Claire McCaskill and Pat Toomey to team on a bill that would make earmarks actually illegal. “I have heard too many appropriators say informally that they are very hopeful we can get back to earmarking,” McCaskill says. (Read more earmarks stories.)