Fellow Conservatives:

Perhaps the biggest policy victory of the 2010 elections was the ban on congressional earmarks. Americans sent a new group of conservative leaders to the U.S. Senate who forced Republicans to stop pork barrel spending.

But the addiction to parochial politics is a hard one to break. Many Republicans were opposed to the earmark ban and are now looking for ways to roll it back so they can personally direct taxpayer money to their pet projects.

Most Americans understand that the earmark process is wasteful and produced boondoggles like the "Bridge to Nowhere". But earmarks are also used to buy votes for larger, budget-busting spending bills. You may recall that Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) provided the 60th vote to pass ObamaCare in return for the "Cornhusker Kickback".

This, unfortunately, is not a rare occurance. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen lawmakers throw their principles out the window and vote for a massive spending bill just to get a small earmark for a project back home. They convince themselves they've done something good but the next thing you know the national debt is over $15 trillion.

Earmarks are a symptom of parochialism and political greed. Some say the Constitution empowers Congress to earmark, but there's nothing in the Constitution to suggest that lawmakers should direct federal funds to parochial projects. The Founders wanted Congress to focus on national interests, not local sewers and museums.

I'm raising this issue today because some Republicans are plotting ways to bring earmarks back. These Republicans are openly admitting that they want to use earmarks for legislative bribery.

According to a recent Reuters story, Representative Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) recently called on his colleagues to drop the earmark ban to help pass a huge transportation bill.

"I just got up ... and did it because I was mad because they were talking about how we can't get 218 votes," Rogers told Reuters, referring to the minimum of 218 votes needed to pass legislation in the House. "There was a lot of applause when I made my comments. I had a few freshmen boo me, but that's okay. By and large it was very well embraced," he added.

The reason why it's been difficult for House Republicans to pass the transportation bill is because it spends too much and is rightly opposed by a number of conservative lawmakers. The solution to this problem is to change the transportation bill, not to buy votes with earmarks. This is precisely why earmarks should be banned permanently. Earmarks make it easier for Congress to pass bad legislation.

The desire to bring earmarks back is not limited to Republicans in the House. I hear it from my colleagues in the Senate too.

This is why it's so important to elect conservative leaders to the Senate this year with the courage to stand up to the big spenders in their own party. If earmarks return, there's no way we'll stop the spending and turn this country around. The focus will shift from national interests back to parochial interests and we'll never balance the budget or repeal ObamaCare.

As you know, the Senate Conservatives Fund only supports candidates who are rock-solid in their opposition to earmarks. We take a zero tollerace approach on this matter. Those who say this isn't a big issue either don't understand it or don't want to. If we lose the fight on earmarks, we lose the fight on everything.

Thank you for your committement to our nation's future.


Jim DeMint
United States Senator
Chairman, Senate Conservatives Fund