Why, Livingston wonders, does Congress all too often accept the president’s spending priorities? His advice to Republicans, if they regain the majority, is not to shun the appropriations committees and not to shun good and honorable earmarks, which even in the worst of years accounted for less than 1% of the federal budget. If earmarks have merit, they should be transparent to the public and not snuck through in the dead of night. Republicans, including supporters of the tea party movement, need to keep in mind that the president cannot force Congress to spend money it refuses to spend. And members of Congress have the right, the power, and the duty to appropriate money in accordance with their own responsible judgment of what is in the public interest.
Livingston was a Republican member of Congress from Louisiana and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee from 1995 to 1999.