The Club for Growth, a fiscally conservative group, publicly opposed President Donald Trump's Tuesday suggestion that lawmakers should again start including earmarks in legislation.
David McIntosh, the group's president, said Trump's proposal would doom Republicans' efforts to maintain a majority in the House of Representatives, according to The Hill. “Bringing back earmarks is the antithesis of draining the swamp,” McIntosh said, referring to one of Trump's primary campaign promises.
Earmarks, considered a form of pork-barrel spending and a symbol of the Washington establishment, are provisions that lawmakers insert into legislation in order to direct funds toward a specific recipient.
Then-Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) banned earmarks after Republicans swept the House of Representatives in 2010.
But according to Trump, earmarks helped facilitate “friendlier” negotiations over legislation like immigration reform.
“Our system lends itself to not getting things done,” Trump said during a meeting with lawmakers on Tuesday. “I hear so much about earmarks — the old earmark system — how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks. But, of course, they had other problems with earmarks. But maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks,” he said.
His comments seemed to provoke laughter from lawmakers in the room.
Trump noted that while earmarks encouraged abuse, Congress could place controls on their use:
“In the old days of earmarks — you can see what you want about certain presidents and others — where they all talk about, they went out to dinner at night and they all got along, and they passed bills. That was an earmark system. And maybe we should think about it, and we have to put better controls because it got a little bit out of hand. But maybe that brings people together.”
But McIntosh argued against earmarks by saying that bringing them back “will only benefit the special interests that grow government at the expense of working men and women.”
Trump added that earmarks might help Congress pass an infrastructure package, something the White House touted for its bipartisan appeal.
“I think we are going to get — I hope we are going to get — infrastructure done in the same way, but I think you should look at a form of earmarks,” Trump said. “A lot of the pros are saying that if you want to get along and if you want to get this country really rolling again, you have to look at a different form because this is obviously out of control,” he said.
Watch Trump make those remarks below, via Fox News.