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Wikipedia: Earmark (politics)
n United States politics, an earmark is a legislative (especially congressional) provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects, or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees. The term “earmark” is used in this sense only in the United States.
Earmarks can be found both in legislation (also called “Hard earmarks” or “Hardmarks") and in the text of Congressional committee reports (also called “Soft earmarks” or “Softmarks"). Hard earmarks are binding and have the effect of law, while soft earmarks do not have the effect of law but by custom are acted on as if they were binding. Typically, a legislator seeks to insert earmarks that direct a specified amount of money to a particular organization or project in his/her home state or district. Earmarks are often considered synonymous with “pork barrel” legislation, although the two are not necessarily the same.
Congressional earmarks are often defined loosely as guarantees of federal expenditures to particular recipients in appropriations-related documents. The federal Office of Management and Budget defines earmarks as funds provided by Congress for projects or programs where the congressional direction (in bill or report language) circumvents Executive Branch merit-based or competitive allocation processes, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the Executive Branch to manage critical aspects of the funds allocation process.
Attempts have been made to define earmarks in ethics and budget reform legislation. However, due to the controversial nature of earmarks and the effects these definitions would have on Congressional power, none of these has been widely accepted.
Despite the lack of a consensus definition, the one used most widely was developed by the Congressional Research Service, the public policy research arm of the U.S. Congress:
“Provisions associated with legislation (appropriations or general legislation) that specify certain congressional spending priorities or in revenue bills that apply to a very limited number of individuals or entities. Earmarks may appear in either the legislative text or report language (committee reports accompanying reported bills and joint explanatory statement accompanying a conference report).”
to earmark (third-person singular simple present earmarks, present participle earmarking, simple past and past participle earmarked)
1.(transitive) To specify or set aside for a particular purpose.
You can donate to the organization as a whole, or you can earmark your contribution for a particular project.
Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Definition of EARMARK
1: a mark of identification on the ear of an animal
2: a distinguishing mark “all the earmarks of poverty”
3: a provision in Congressional legislation that allocates a specified amount of money for a specific project, program, or organization
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, November 11, 2010 • Permalink