House Democrats Vote to Block Earmarks to Private Industry

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House Democrats voted Wednesday to ban earmarks to private companies, in light of backlash over runaway spending and ethics scandals. Earmarks are used by lawmakers to direct federal money to specific pet projects. "[Their elimination] ensures that for-profit companies no longer reap the rewards of congressional earmarks and limits the influence of lobbyists on members of Congress," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. Republicans — who will hold an intra-party vote on the issue Thursday — have called earmarks “a symbol of a broken Washington” and are looking to ban them across the board, not just to for-profit companies. [WP, NYT]