Members assert that they understand local needs better than government administrators
Statutory and Regulatory Priorities are national
Earmarks and now Member Designated Projects may create conflicts
Congress is considering Legislation and a House Rule, “Moving Forward Act,”/Surface Transportation and Community Project Funding , which would reinstate a practice which the Members had abandoned for years. The sponsors of these two initiatives say that this new mechanism is not “pork, because:
- Transparency– publicly disclosed when the Member makes a request (no midnight mark-ups?).
- a written justification for why the project is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars.
- Community support
- Early in the Congressional year
- the lawmaker and their immediately family cannot have a financial interest in the request.
Chairman DeFazio is a BIG fan of what used to be called “earmarking”
His statement is textbook devolution, a philosophy normally attributed to Republicans. The Chair ignores the work which his committee and Congress do in establishing NATIONAL STANDARDS for federal payments to local communities. The Senior Member of the Oregon Congressional Delegation is a master at crafting language expressing directions to the Department, agencies or other Executive Branch organization on how to spend the taxpayers’ tax dollars! The priorities set cross county and state lines.
Currently, the Member Designated Request does not apply to aviation , but historically such concepts tend to spread across boundaries. As mentioned below, the Republicans support the lipsticked pig euphemism. Oddly, today’s House Minority party has abandoned fiscal conservativism even though historically these designations have been found to not be good use of national funds.
Congress’ oversight of the FAA’s AIP funding, particularly discretionary dollars, has repeatedly expressed the need for NATIONAL PRIORITIES. The “most people in DC” who actually write the checks have written in great detail their process, their standards and even a detailed definition of how applicants for grant should calculate the net benefits of their projects:
A frequent critic of the FAA, the GAO, has studied its prioritization and found it well-administered.
The tremendous, bipartisan Congressional support for member Designated Projects is shown by these two (among many similar stories) headlines:
U.S. House Members request more than $2.2 billion for 343 transit projects as part of surface transportation reauthorization
The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will advance surface transportation authorization legislation later this spring, building on H.R. 2, the “Moving Forward Act,” from the 116th Congress. Members seeking to submit requests for highway and transit designations should utilize the resources below to assist in preparation of project requests and the documentation required. Only Members and approved staff of the U.S. House of Representatives will be allowed access to the secure website to transmit requests to the Committee for consideration. Stakeholder groups with inquiries regarding this process should meet with the Member whose district is home to the project in question.
NEW on 6/7/2021: The table with approved Member Designated Projects can be found in section 107 of Division A of H.R. 3684 (pg. 47) linked here.
Member Designated Projects: Committee Receives More than 2,000 Submissions for Consideration as Part of Surface Transportation Bill
WASHINGTON, DC— Two months after announcing a reformed process for Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to submit projects in their districts for consideration to be included in the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization bill, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Ranking Member of the Committee Sam Graves (R-MO) today announced 318 members have submitted more than 2,000 projects for consideration.
(To view a list of all submissions, click here.)
The Committee intends to move a five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill in the coming weeks to provide critical investments in our nation’s roads, bridges, rail, and public transit to help communities in every state and territory in the U.S. move forward on badly-needed infrastructure projects.
A closer look at the project submissions:
Total number of project submissions: 2,380
- From Democratic Members: 1,775
- From Republican Members: 605
Total number of House Members Participating in Member Designated Projects: 318
- Democratic Members: 213
- Republican Members: 105
“I commend my colleagues and their staff who went through the rigorous steps to submit Member Designated Projects under the reformed system, which we adopted to ensure transparency in the process and viability of the projects,” Chair DeFazio said. “It’s not an easy process, but it is important because I strongly believe elected representatives—working with their communities—know the specific infrastructure needs of their district far better than most people in D.C. and can serve as their constituents’ best advocates as Congress crafts infrastructure legislation. I was pleased by the high level of participation, on a bipartisan basis, in this process. Now I look forward to advancing our surface bill soon, complete with Member Designated Projects, and working with all my colleagues to send a transformational bill that creates jobs and improves our communities to the president’s desk.”
“The Committee established a thorough set of requirements for any Members choosing to submit requests, and now posting all submissions in one location will help ensure the highest level of transparency,” said Graves.
As part of the process, Chair DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves asked their colleagues to submit projects with community support that help advance the goals of the surface bill. The Committee also required all member submissions to include the following information for each project requested:
- Documentation of whether the project is on the State, Tribal, or territorial transportation improvement program (STIP); and on the metropolitan transportation improvement program (TIP), if applicable
- Sources of funding for the full share of the cost of the project beyond the amount requested
- Letter(s) of support from the state department of transportation, or local government, transit agency, or other non-federal sponsor
- A description of the process that has been or will be followed to provide an opportunity for public comment on the project
- Project phase (e.g., Planning, Final Design, Construction)
- NEPA category of action (e.g., Categorical Exclusion, Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Statement)
- Status of environmental review
- Whether the project has received federal funding previously, and if so the source and amount
- Certification that the member, their spouse, and other immediate family members do not have a financial interest in the project.
Chair DeFazio transportation wish list
Even Republicans buy into the “Member Designated Projects” a/k/a Earmarks
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans narrowly voted Wednesday to allow their members to seek earmarks under certain conditions, making a clean break from a decade-long ban against seeking money for specific projects back home….
In line with the rules established by Democrats, the policy change approved by Republicans specifies that no member shall ask for an earmark unless it is publicly disclosed when it is made. Each request must include a written justification for why the project is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. And the lawmaker and their immediately family cannot have a financial interest in the request.
Many in Congress say the ban has gone too far, ceding the “power of the purse” to party leaders and the executive branch while giving lawmakers less incentive to work with members of the other party on major legislation. That frustration spurred Democratic appropriators to revive earmarking, announcing they will accept public requests for “community project funding” in federal spending bills.
To meet urgent needs across the United States, the House Appropriations Committee has invited Members of Congress to request funding for projects in their communities. These requests are subject to strict transparency and accountability rules, which can be found here.
Members were invited to submit projects to the Appropriations Committee as a first step in the appropriations process. After receiving submissions from Members, the Committee carefully reviewed them for inclusion in fiscal year 2022 appropriations bills. The following lists provide information on the Community Project Funding requests that were funded by each Subcommittee.
- Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
- Financial Services and General Government
- Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
Project Name: Aviation Professional Pilot Improvement Project
Request Amount: $497,000
Intended Recipient: Lane Community College
Full Street Address of the Intended Recipient: 4000 E 30th Ave Eugene, OR 97405
Signed Financial Disclosure Letter
Explanation of the request: The Lane Aviation Academy (LAA) currently provides commercial pilot, remote pilot, and aviation maintenance training. To keep up with industry demand and keep southwest Oregon students competitive, LAA needs additional aircraft, aircraft avionics, and other industry expected new technologies. The purpose of the Aviation Professional Pilot Improvement Project (APPIP) is to improve the quality of training and maintain accessibility of LAA’s commercial pilot programs by providing new and enhanced training for LAA students, help LAA maintain current student cost rates, and streamline training for students, saving them time and money. This would ensure our community members have access to high-quality training, and LCC is able to provide those community members high-quality training.
In alphabetical order, websites for each Member’s requests are below:
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