Tester bill cuts spending by rescinding unused earmarks

Effort follows Senator’s bill to rescind unused Kalispell area earmark to pay down national debt

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today cosponsored legislation to cut government spending by rescinding all earmarks that go unused after more than nine years.

Tester’s bipartisan Orphan Earmarks Act would rescind any earmark which remains at least 90 percent unused nine years after being signed into law.

Today’s legislation follows Tester’s effort to rescind an unused 2003 earmark set aside for the unincorporated community of Evergreen, Mont., and instead use the $578,000 to help pay down the national debt.

“Unfortunately, the country is stuck with a lot of holdovers from the time before we brought accountability and transparency to earmarks,” Tester said.  “These unused, unwanted checks are just sitting out there.  It’s time to go back and cut that spending, and make sure no taxpayer dollar is going to waste on these unwanted projects.”

Recent reports
point to thousands of earmarks which remain completely unused years after being appropriated.  Orphan earmarks can also count against a state's share of other federal funds and have reduced states’ transportation budgets by billions of dollars.

Tester’s legislation would “tear up these checks that have never been cashed.”  Under the bill, earmarks that remain 90 percent unused after nine years would be rescinded, with the possibility of an additional one-year grace period if a state or local government intends to use the earmark within the following year.

The Evergreen earmark was secured by former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns four years before Tester helped pass a sweeping ethics overhaul which brought transparency to the earmark process.  The new process prohibits earmarks that are anonymously inserted into legislation with no accountability or opportunity for debate.

Congressional Republicans are currently blocking consideration of Tester’s legislation to rescind the Evergreen earmark.

A copy of Tester’s bipartisan Orphan Earmarks Act is available on his website, HERE.