The dramatis personae: two Members of Congress. One wants to fund a building named after herself; the other wants to block the funding. I meant to write about this story last week when I saw it, but I’ve been too busy. Or, more precisely, too lazy. Instead, I’ll just quote from it.
The Roll Call article, Earmark Ban Sparks A Spat, is full of juicy details. Here are a few paragraphs:
A plan by House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) to ban “monuments to me” in this year’s appropriations bills has been sharply criticized behind closed doors by a senior Democrat who wants to direct $1 million to an employment center in her district bearing her name.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) confronted Obey in the Democratic whip meeting Thursday, complaining about his refusal to fund her earmark request for the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center in the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill, according to another Democratic Member and aides.
Obey told Waters that he was no longer allowing earmarks named after Members and would only make exceptions for people who are “dying.”
Obey appears to be pre-emptively and quietly enforcing a ban on earmarks named after sitting Members, hoping to avoid a floor fight with Republicans intent on banning the practice.
Republican earmark foes, meanwhile, were jubilant at the apparent change in policy — provided Obey follows through.
“If that in fact is happening, it means there’s a recognition among an increasing number of Members that these ‘monuments to me’ are a really bad thing that the public believes is emblematic of waste and self-dealing,” Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) said.
“If this is the Obey policy, it is a big victory for us,” said Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), the only appropriator who does not request earmarks and one of the chief critics of earmarks named for Members.
Based on the incredible resistance I faced in the Arkansas General Assembly when trying to block politicians from naming things after themselves, I had no idea that I was part of a larger movement! Previous post dealing with similar issues here.