Earmarks, member items not the same


“Member items” and “earmarks” are two different things.

Member items (sometimes utilized by state Senators and state Assembly Members – they represent us in Albany) are specifically designated projects that individual legislators can fund at their discretion for programs in their districts that they deem worthy.

Earmarks (sometimes “were'” utilized by Congressmembers and Senators – they represent us in Washington) are projects identified by our representatives, and recommended to committees that appropriate funds to specific federal agencies.

If the subcommittee agrees, and the full committee agrees, they vote to set aside, or earmark some of the agency’s funds for that project. If the bill passes, it goes to the full house, which votes on it. The same project also has to pass the Senate in the same way. If it does, the president may sign it into law.

It’s not easy to do. It’s competitive. Absent earmarks, you figure out how you can get Washington to fund what you consider your community’s priority. Or even that your community itself is a priority.

Gary Ackerman

Member of Congress