Walz bill would ban earmarks to for-profit corporations

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Tim Walz cosponsored a bill today that would ban congressional earmarks to for-profit corporations.

“No-bid contracts aren’t good for the taxpayer,” Walz said in a statement. “Earmarks to for-profit companies act like no-bid contracts and that’s not something I can support.”

The issue is a big one for watchdog groups like the Sunlight Foundation.

Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the foundation, uses earmarked funding for health research as an example. In the normal process, researchers have to submit a proposal to a government agency like the National Institutes of Health. That proposal then goes through a rigorous peer review process, which is the scientific equivalent of competitive bidding.

The current earmark system circumvents this process, directing federal dollars to researchers or companies that a lawmaker or their staff deems worthy.

“You have them making decisions that are way beyond their level of expertise or the expertise of the staff… That just isn’t a good way to spend money,” Allison told MinnPost in March. “Even if those programs are good, we are potentially missing out.”

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