Cooper pushes permanent ban on earmarks

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, says many congressmen long for the return of earmarked federal spending, according to Michael Collins, but the Nashville Democrats wants to get rid of them permanently.

“You hear it in the hallways and on the floor all the time: ‘Oh, if we only had earmarks,’” Cooper said. “People spend most of their days raising money for their own campaigns, and then they come to the floor and think, ‘Here’s some more money. Why can’t we use it to help me in my district get elected?’”

…Just as Congress left Washington for its August break, Cooper and U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-South Carolina, filed a bill that, if approved, would permanently bar the House from considering any legislation containing earmarks. Any earmarks found in legislation would have to be stripped before the bill could proceed.

Cooper, who has earned a reputation in Congress as a deficit hawk, insists he’s not against federal spending. He is against spending taxpayer money on projects that have few, if any, merits.

“We can have federal spending,” he said, “but do it on the merits.”

Cooper has been fighting against earmarks for years, so he knows what he’s up against. Even with the temporary bans in place, some crafty lawmakers have still managed to grab taxpayer money for their pet projects.

Given that reality, Cooper is matter-of-fact about his bill’s chances of passing. “Zero to none,” he said.