Earmark Ban Fails to Slow Lobbying on Appropriations Issues

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR The congressional ban on earmarks has not stopped Washington lobbyists from continuing to work on appropriations bills but it has changed their focus.Now lobbyists are pressing the Appropriations panels to include policy language or establish funding targets, rather than earmarks for specific projects.Clients, for example, may want to make sure certain agency programs are adequately funded so there would be money available for a competitive grant program, Jim Dyer, a lobbyist at the Podesta Group and former staff director on House Appropriations, told CQ Roll Call. In that case, Dyer would ask a committee to set guidelines for the program that are aligned with his clients’ capabilities. “Obviously, it’s a different world than it was 10 years ago,” he said.Republicans have banned earmarks since 2011 through caucus rules that have been renewed in each Congress, while Democrats have adopted a voluntary earmark ban.Jim Richards, a partner at Cornerstone Government Affairs, echoed Dyer’s remark, noting that clients now focus on programmatic funding. “Your first priority is ‘do no harm,’” Richards said, meaning no cuts to a particular program. “But you’re still scrambling for any type of increase once you do no harm.”One consequence of the earmark ban has been a shift from cities and municipalities seeking funding for specific projects to corporations looking for favorable language in committee reports. Despite the changes, appropriations and federal budget issues remain the top target in the lobbying world, according to the story.last_img

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