Murkowski: It's time to bring back earmarks

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Sen. Lisa Murkowski says it’s time to bring back earmarks, a now-banned method of funding projects through legislation.

She made the statement at a luncheon hosted by Commonwealth North, an organization focused on public policy education.

“We have we have to reassert our power in the legislative branch to be the body that sets the legislative spending priorities, this means bringing back earmarks,” Alaska's senior senator announced.

An “earmark” is the process of designating money for a specific project in legislation. The practice gained a controversial reputation, as projects like Alaska's so-called "Bridge to Nowhere," a link between the city of Ketchikan and its airport on a neighboring island, were funded. In 2011 the practice was banned in Congress.

“What we as republicans did some years back, was to say, ‘there's too much dark stuff going on with appropriations so we need to get rid of earmarks,’ ” said Murkowski. “What we needed to do—was what we were directing ourselves to do—was to increase the transparency, have it be wide open to the world.”

“This is the role that is set out in the constitution for the Congress, for the legislative branch to set the spending priorities,” said Murkowski. “We've ceded that to the agencies. We've ceded that. I think that was wrong. I think we need to reassert that and I think we need to do so in an open and transparent way.”

“So if we need to call it a different word, I'm okay with calling it a different word, but what I want to do is to have the legislative branch take the authority that is granted in the constitution, so that we can do right by all of our constituents all around the country,” said Murkowski.

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