Congress could benefit from returning to the days of earmarks, President Donald Trump told lawmakers at a bipartisan meeting on Tuesday.
“I hear so much about earmarks and how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks,” Trump said of the system of congressional directives for spending on specific projects. “Of course they had other problems, but maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks.”
Trump said that the current system produced hostility and anger, whereas “in the old days” lawmakers got along and met over dinner and legislation got passed.
“That was an earmark system and we should think about it and put better controls because it got out of hand,” he said. “Maybe that brings people together. Our system the way it is set up will never bring people together.”
Critics of earmarks say that tax money is better spent through federal agencies based on study and need, rather than allocated by elected officials for pet projects.
Trump’s comments have already come under fire from Democrats.
“Huh? The President just embraced earmarks?” Sen. Claire McCaskill tweeted. “Talk about the swampiest of swamp creatures. You gotta be kidding me.”