Our focus on jobs continues today as the House takes up an infrastructure bill that is almost as noteworthy for it what it doesn’t contain as what it does. 

Set for a vote today, the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act has no earmarks.  This is quite a departure for a bill whose claim to fame – or infamy, as it were – was being saturated with earmarks.  Hundreds of them.  In 2007, the bill got so out of hand that it garnered the headline: “Want Some Water With That Pork?” 

Republicans have changed all this, banning earmarks with the idea that we either spend taxpayer dollars wisely or not at all. So instead of an earmark haven, this is now a bill focused on high-priority projects that will strengthen our economy.  In other words, it’s about jobs.  It’s about cutting red tape to keep our ports and waterways thriving.  It is bipartisan proof we don’t need earmarks to address the people’s priorities

We said we’d do things differently, we are.  We said we’d focus on jobs, we are.  This is the difference a majority makes:

2007 – Democratic Congress

Today – House GOP Majority

“Plenty of Projects, No Rules.” (Roll Call, 4/16/07)

Water bill flooded with earmarks.  Democrats pledged to cut down on pork, but legislation suggests a hearty appetite for it.  … If the water bill is a sign of things to come, the appetite for earmarks remains undiminished.” (Los Angeles Times, 5/21/07)

Panel Leaders Add Water Bill Earmarks.  On March 15, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a ... bill carrying nearly 600 projects for individual Members of Congress.  But by the time Congress overwhelmingly approved the bill on April 19, it had grown by about 115 projects… a classic example of the abuse of earmarks.” (Roll Call, 4/30/07)

Want Some Water With That Pork? … Because they were added in conference, neither the House nor the Senate has any chance to debate or amend them. …  A list of 20 earmarks only obtained through tedious research…” (National Review, 9/25/07)

“Originally, the Senate and House passed bills that would have cost far less than what they finally passed.” (McClatchy, 11/2/07)

The Earmark Ban’s Progress.  The earmark ban is producing more spending accountability and oversight. … Remarkable to behold, something like priority-setting has happened in the current water bill, the first to go through Congress since the 2011 earmark ban. …  Rather than follow Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's call to return to the pork-addled past, Congress ought to make this water bill a standard for future spending.” (The Wall Street Journal, editorial, 5/20/14)

House GOP Touts Water Bill as a Sign of Thriving, Post-Earmark World.  The notion of passing a major infrastructure bill through the House and Senate without earmarks seemed, at first, unthinkable.  But Speaker John A. Boehner insists things can get done, and he and Rep. Bill Shuster have a bipartisan water bill coming up to prove it.  …  It could … create precedent going forward in an earmark-free Congress…” (Roll Call, 5/16/14)

“Negotiations on a compromise bill took months as the two chambers haggled over how to determine which projects would go forward.  In the days when earmarks were allowed, lawmakers inserted projects into legislation without committee review…” (The Journal News, 5/15/14)