Only we have the solution

June 20, 2022

We have the solution to the biggest problem in Washington, DC!

A Republican majority banned congressional earmarks back in 2011.

We routinely give you evidence that not all is hopeless and good things can happen. The earmarks ban was yet more evidence that sometimes politicians do the right thing. Our task is to make the right thing happen more often.

But the earmarks ban is essentially gone. That’s why we also need strategies for making good changes stick.

A cluster of earmarks

Reason reports that the March omnibus federal spending bill contained earmarks for more than 4,000 pet projects, totaling more than $8 billion. These earmarks included…

  • $1.6 million for a Roger Williams University program to promote equitable shellfish aquaculture
  • $800,000 to build “artist lofts” in California
  • Half a million for a new ski jumping facility in New Hampshire
  • $1.5 million for a San Francisco park
  • $1.1 million for a New York “rail-trail”
  • $3 million for the Brooklyn Museum
  • $1.5 million for capital improvements to a Staten Island theater
  • And roughly 3,993 more!

Here’s the problem, the earmark ban was only a procedural rule, not a law!

The anti-earmarking rule helped for a while, but no mere rule can be the solution to the problem. You see, Congress can waive its own rules whenever it likes. And they do so with great gusto.

They have started constantly “waiving” the earmarks rule. They’ve also been waiving their bill reading rule and their discretionary spending caps.

Waiving the bill-reading rule also has a negative impact on wasteful earmark spending because most earmarks are slipped into bills with no oversight. No one examines or debates them because no one has to read the legislation that contains them. For example…

The 2,741-page $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill with 367 pages of earmarks was introduced on a Wednesday and passed by both chambers by the end of the week. And a Senate amendment to strip-out all the earmarks failed 64-35.

Please notice, there were 35 Senators who wanted to do the right thing, and there might have been enough to win if we had lobbying parity with the special interests. And we need your help to make that happen.

Only Agenda Setters by Downsize DC has developed solutions to all of these problems

The Read the Bills Act (RTBA) would fully expose each earmark to every member of Congress. The reading requirement would also make it impossible to pass so many earmarks so quickly.

The One Subject at a Time Act (OSTA) would prohibit omnibus spending bills entirely. Congress would have to consider appropriations bills, for each budget category, one at a time. Sometimes, this too would slow down the creation of earmarks. Other times, it would kill them altogether because every earmark would have to be part of the subject line of the bill.

Best of all, the RTBA is a law, not a rule. OSTA would be a law, not a rule. Congress couldn’t just waive these laws.

If you can only do one thing today, please become one of The 300 for OSTA if you have not done so already.

We won’t waste your time. Thanks to our Option Activism strategy, you won’t be activated until there are 300 people in your district.


If you are already a member of The 300 for OSTA, please ask your friends to join you, and/or contribute or start a monthly pledge so we can recruit more people.

Set your own agenda,

Jim Babka, President
Agenda Setters by Downsize DC

Today’s Action: Pass the One Subject at a Time Act


Help build The 300 with a one-time or monthly contribution.

Coming soon!

See the "300" Agenda Setters in your district

Don't subscribe ... a boring, inbox-stuffing newsletter. Get more!

See our Privacy Policy