WASHINGTON â€” House Republicans approved a ban on special projects known as earmarks on Thursday, and incoming freshman James Lankford said it was a good message to send as the GOP prepares to take over the majority in the House.
Lankford, of Edmond, who was elected this month to succeed Republican Mary Fallin in the U.S. House, said the move to prevent lawmakers from requesting money for roads or other projects back in their districts was important, even though earmarks represent only about 1 percent of the budget.
â€œIt's significant in its message that every dollar counts,â€ Lankford said, adding that if Americans can't trust the way 1 percent of the money is spent, lawmakers won't have any credibility on the other 99 percent.
The unanimous House vote followed a similar move by Senate Republicans on Tuesday. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, is planning to force a full Senate vote on banning the projects.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, said, â€œFederal spending has gotten completely out of control and has driven this country to historic levels of debt.
â€œThe across-the-board moratorium on earmarks is a first step in the right direction for curing Washington and showing the American people we are serious about curbing spending and decreasing the national debt.â€
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, who was critical of the House Republican move to restrict earmarks this year, said Thursday that suspending them â€œwill allow us to focus on bigger debt drivers like entitlement and programmatic spending.â€