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Massachusetts communities are in for a stroke of luck when Congress can soon pass a new federal budget > Massachusetts

But with Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives next year, the fate of the more than $1.5 trillion federal budget and earmarking itself is in jeopardy as the GOP seeks to reduce discretionary spending and clean up the contentious practice overall.

The Globe has compiled all of the requests from the state’s congressional delegation, which already totals nearly $200 million in the House budget and more than $66 million in the Senate budget. While some of these projects overlap, the inclusion of the funds in their respective bills bodes well for their future – but again: only if a funding deal is made. If not, lawmakers will either allow the government to shut down during the impasse or pass a rolling resolution to keep spending stable but frozen, neither of which will cause earmarking to expire.

Requests from Massachusetts lawmakers run the gamut, including climate resilience projects, medical centers, and community programs. Earmarked donations would flow to every corner of the state, from $400,000 for the Provincetown Art Association and Museum to $3 million for the grandstand improvement project at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield.

if If lawmakers reach an agreement, this would be the second straight budget in which Congress has circulated revised earmarkings, now officially called “Community Project Funding” in the House of Representatives and “Congress-led Spending” in the Senate. They allow members of the House and Senate to guarantee money for specific projects in their districts without having to apply for grants or programs from federal agencies, a process that critics have historically ridiculed as bloated spending on hog barrels and ripe for abuse became. Earmarks were banned by both houses in 2011 after a Republican majority in the House of Representatives swept into office in the Tea Party craze.

But lawmakers have found it increasingly difficult to pass federal budgets without incentives for members to bring impactful money back to their districts, prompting Democrats to revive the practice when they took over the House of Representatives in 2019 and the Senate in 2021.

This time around, there are specific guardrails for funding community projects, including a limit of 15 requests for house members, a ban on for-profit recipients, a requirement that members sign a certificate declaring they have no financial interest in the projects, and a cap on total earmarked spending 1 percent of the federal discretionary budget.

Although they have opposed earmarking in the past, many Republicans have submitted their own motions for the new funding. While some voted against Fiscal year 2022 omnibus government bills for financing anyway, most have touted the financing of their projects.

All legislators in the Massachusetts House of Representatives requested their full allocation of 15 projects, and all but three were included in the House budget bill. However, many were scaled down, and no lawmakers received the full amounts requested. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey have jointly submitted their proposals and so far have secured more than $66 million for 56 projects.

Earmarking is politically beneficial to lawmakers and also a boon to local communities. State legislators have toured their counties promoting the projects included in the 2022 budget, taking the opportunity to see the results of their efforts and receive recognition for bringing home the proverbial bacon.

On a stop in Adams last month to see it The construction of a recreation center on Mount Greylock, made possible by federal funds he secured, said Springfield Representative Richard Neal in an interview that the “arduous process” of securing earmarks to make such meritorious causes a reality was well worth it .

“These projects wouldn’t happen without us,” Neal said. “That’s the point. . . . It strikes me that earmarking requests are coming from colleges and universities, local governments and hospitals.”

For this upcoming budget, the majority of the delegation has included about $20 million in the bill for their districts.

The state’s biggest requester was Newton freshman Jake Auchincloss, who asked for more than $50 million. Of that, nearly $39 million made it into the bill. Auchincloss also secured the delegation’s largest single donation: $7 million to improve accessibility to Newton’s commuter train stations. The second largest requester was Representative Stephen Lynch of Boston, who requested nearly $50 million and got $30 million in the draft.

Passing a federal budget before the end of the year requires an agreement between President Biden, congressional Democrat leaders and some Republicans, as a minimum of 10 GOP votes are required in the Senate to pass the budget. Some progressives have voted against spending bills in the past over objections to high defense spending, so more Republican votes may be needed.

But if negotiators can agree on an agreement, and one that includes earmarking, the projects for the approved budgets will likely make it into final legislation, based on last year’s precedent.


Tal Kopan can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @talkopan.

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