Clyburn: ‘Nothing political’ about using earmark process

Apr 28, 2022, 12:03 AM | Updated: 12:14 pm
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., left, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., talk...

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., left, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., talk on their way to a House Democratic Caucus meeting, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, April 5, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — With the revival of earmarks after a decadelong pause brought on by high-profile abuses linked to corruption, U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn says he hopes that his colleagues in both chambers see the renewed process as more transparent and accountable, to the benefit of all constituents regardless of party.

“There’s nothing political about serving people and getting the greatness of this country accessible and affordable to everybody,” the No. 3 House Democrat told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “The things that are great in this country are too expensive for low-income, poor people, and they can’t have access to it in rural communities. That, to me, is sinful.”

Clyburn’s comments came as the window for the next fiscal year closes on the requests, which are solicited by members via online portals, then submitted to relevant appropriations committees for consideration.

The once-popular practice of member-directed funding requests — often called “pork barrel” spending, because lawmakers would divert funds to pet projects in their states — was banished from Congress a decade ago. Critics thought too many projects went to a handful of powerful lawmakers and fostered a “pay to play” culture in which campaign contributions were often solicited from lobbyists and others.

Now, rebranded as “community project funding,” the process has returned, as lawmakers in both parties grew frustrated by their inability to shape spending legislation.

On that point, Clyburn said no one is better suited to know a district’s needs than the member representing it.

“Nobody out in California gives a hoot about the little town of Santee, South Carolina, or those communities in Calhoun County, Orangeburg County, Bamberg County, Colleton County,” Clyburn said, of the rural areas he represents that have benefited from one of his projects, the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency.

The new arrangement has more guardrails than in the past, requiring members to submit certification that neither they nor their immediate families have financial interests in projects they request. Its supporters promote the framework’s transparency, although Clyburn acknowledged an ingrained potential for problems.

“I don’t care what you do with a system: Somebody will attempt to abuse it,” Clyburn said. “Be transparent, but that’s not going to stop people who think they can work around the system.”

Thousands of the first earmarks in a decade are sprinkled throughout the governmentwide $1.5 trillion bill recently signed by President Joe Biden. According to an Associated Press examination of items attributed to specific lawmakers in legislative documents, the bill includes nearly 5,000 such projects, worth $9.7 billion.

Among them are $41 million for Clyburn’s projects, which include rural water infrastructure efforts, crime-reduction initiatives and small-business development, benefits for largely rural, low-income areas of his district he argued would be disadvantaged without earmark opportunities

“There’s not a single earmark that I have ever requested that I would not be pleased with it being on street corners in neon lights, because what I was trying to do was respond to the wishes of people in those communities,” he said.

Most House Democrats requested projects for this year’s bill, compared with about half of Republicans. In the 50-50 Senate, the items were sought by 46 Democrats and their two allied independents, but just 16 Republicans, according to AP’s review.

Breaking with more than 100 congressional Republicans, who refused to earmark as a matter of principle, the bill also includes millions in requests from U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the only other member of South Carolina’s delegation to submit projects.

Many in the GOP remain outspoken against earmarks. Rep. Ralph Norman, Graham’s fellow South Carolina Republican, has several times introduced a ban on the practice, saying last year that “the way we appropriate federal dollars has deteriorated into a national disgrace” and warning an earmark revival “is sure to lead to more corruption and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.”

To Clyburn, the undertaking’s benefits should be straightforward — and apolitical.

“If you believe in making this country’s greatness accessible and affordable for all of its citizens, then that’s all it is,” he said. “But if you’re more interested in making a headline — which is what some of my Republican friends seem to be interested in — than making headway, I don’t know if I can talk to you.”


Meg Kinnard can be reached at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Photo from Flickr...
Associated Press

Washington kills 2 wolves to prevent preying on cattle

Biologists working for Washington have killed two members of the Leadpoint wolf pack this week in an effort to stop the pack from preying on cattle
19 hours ago
Associated Press

US judge dismisses Mexico lawsuit against gun manufacturers

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A U.S. federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Mexican government against U.S. gun manufacturers arguing their commercial practices has led to bloodshed in Mexico. Judge F. Dennis Saylor in Boston ruled Mexico’s claims did not overcome the broad protection provided to gun manufacturers by the Protection of […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Celina Washburn protests outside the Arizona Capitol to voice her dissent with an abortion r...
Associated Press

Arizona judge won’t suspend ruling that halted all abortions

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona judge on Friday declined to put her order that allowed enforcement of a pre-statehood law making it a crime to provide an abortion on hold, saying abortion right groups that asked her to block the order are not likely to prevail on appeal. The ruling from Pima County Superior Court […]
19 hours ago
A slag pile of mining waste is seen in Anaconda, Mont., on Dec. 15, 2016. A subsidiary of London-ba...
Associated Press

Montana site fouled by copper smelter to get final cleanup

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A subsidiary of London-based oil giant BP agreed to finish its cleanup of a 300-square mile (776-square kilometer) site in Montana that’s contaminated with arsenic and other pollutants from decades of copper smelting, and to repay the U.S. government $48 million in response costs. Under a legal decree filed Friday in […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Britney Spears supporters celebrate following a hearing concerning the pop singer's conserva...
Associated Press

After #FreeBritney, California to limit conservatorships

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed a bill limiting conservatorships that grant legal guardianship over individuals, a move that comes after Britney Spears’ conservatorship case garnered national attention amid her attempts to regain control over her finances and livelihood. The new law, authored by Democratic Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, will require […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

5 slain in Texas neighborhood identified; suspect charged

McGREGOR, Texas (AP) — Officials have disclosed the identities of five people killed in a Central Texas neighborhood, as well as the suspect in the slayings. The Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday that Nicolas Jaimes-Hernandez, 35, of Mexico, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. More charges are pending. He was […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Clyburn: ‘Nothing political’ about using earmark process