Politics
5:41 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Sen. Shaheen Seeks To Lift Congressional Ban On Earmarks

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen meets with the staff of Saving People's Smiles, a nonprofit dental clinic in Concord.
Credit Michael Brindley, NHPR

  U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen wants to lift the Congressional ban on earmarks, imposed under Republican leadership in 2010.

Shaheen says earmarks, often criticized as so-called pork spending, were a useful way for lawmakers to target money to projects in their home states.

When they were in effect, Shaheen says taxpayers could find information online about who was requesting the money and where it was going. Now, she says under the ban those decisions about spending are left to the administration.

“Unfortunately today, it’s all done behind closed doors, and so I think bringing back that process and making sure it’s accountable and transparent is the best way to provide some of that funding.”

She made her comments after a tour of the Saving People’s Smiles, a nonprofit dental clinic in Concord.

Shaheen says earmarks could help to target federal support to programs like the dental clinic, which does not receive public funding.

Laura Stewart, a dental assistant at the clinic, says that makes keeping basic supplies in stock a challenge.

“I want to have gloves here where I don’t have to worry about running down to my last box, just having anesthetic; the bare bones of running a practice.”

Shaheen says New Hampshire often gets short changed in federal funding formulas because of its relatively high income level.

She says House leadership has already indicated they are not open to lifting the ban.