GOP tightens rules on pork-barrel spending after LGBT blowup

The Republican-controlled Congress, hurt by the embarrassing projects that were slipped into this year’s spending bills, announced Thursday rules to limit the type of pork barrel projects that can be funded.

The lawmakers were horrified when they discovered that they had allocated money to multiple LGBTQ centers including one which hosted “kink parties”.

Democrats supported this project and included it as part of a bill drafted primarily by Republicans who control the House.

The LGBTQ centers are operated as non-profits. The old rules allowed them to receive money “earmarked” by Congress through Economic Development Initiative Grants.


Tom Cole, the newly elected Oklahoma Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has said that this will change when Congress begins to work on bills for next year. The Economic Development Account will no longer allow nonprofits to receive earmarks, but states and localities are still able collect funds.

In a letter to his colleagues, Mr. Cole explained the new rules. “Similar reforms were made during this Congress to ensure that projects are in line with the goals of community development in the federal program,” he wrote.

Democrats accused Republicans injecting partisanship into the bipartisan tradition that takes a piece of the pie from taxpayers.

Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut’s top Democrat, told reporters that the rule covers more than just LGBTQ centers. The rule also prohibits funding for private veterans’ groups, senior centers and religious organizations.

According to her, the new rule would make nearly half the economic development fund in the spending bills for this year ineligible.

The result of the change is not only bad for House Democrats. “They are harming members of their party by placing all House members in a severe advantage,” Ms. DeLauro stated in a press release.

Congress is now testing earmarks following a ban that lasted from 2011 until 2021. The ban was imposed by Republicans after numerous blunders, both large and small.

Alaska received hundreds millions of dollars from the federal government to build “Bridge to Nowhere”, a bridge connecting an island that has only a few dozen residents, and a ferry service.

Congress spent so much money on pork barrels that they sent the money to completely wrong projects.

A number of members of Congress were sent to prison for selling access earmarks.

Democrats lifted the ban on earmarks in 2021, and reintroduced pork-barrel funding under a new name – Community Funding Projects – and with a set rules that, according to Ms. DeLauro would prevent abuses.

She claimed Thursday that she created a “system of transparency and accountability” which allowed legislators to directly respond the needs of their local communities.

Republicans said it shouldn’t be $1 million of taxpayer money that goes to organizations like the William Way LGBT Community Center, in Philadelphia. The center was accused of giving space to groups who hosted kink events.

The center claimed that the parties are much more moderate than legislators imagined, but this issue has proven toxic. Democratic sponsors have asked for the money to be removed from the bill.

Republicans say that earmarks are too complicated and that any project causing trouble for one side is not appropriate.

Republican lawmakers claimed that the smell of LGBTQ spending went beyond what was being spent.

Sen. Mike Lee (Utah Republican) said Congress had given $850,000 to New Immigrant Community Empowerment. He said the organization was responsible for border chaos, as it worked towards the legalization of illegal migrants.

Last month, Mr. Lee asked on the Senate floor: “Even if we agree with this entity, and many Americans do not, why are we going to take money from U.S. tax payers to fund an organization that actively helps illegal aliens obtain American jobs?”

The attempt to cancel his spending was unsuccessful.

Both chambers, even though Democrats control the Senate must agree on projects that are earmarked.

The rules of Mr. Cole apply to the fiscal year 2025 spending bills. The fiscal year doesn’t start until October 1, but the lawmakers will be busy writing legislation in the interim.

The deadline for House members to submit requests to the Appropriations Committee is May 3. The lawmakers have two weeks to post their requests on their websites.

The request should include a statement that neither the applicant nor his or her spouse has a financial stake in the project, and describe how it advances federal spending priorities.