Begich Supports Alaska’s Fair Share of Federal Funding
Favors full disclosure of Earmarks and Earmark Reform
Committed to addressing Alaska's enormous infrastructure needs, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today announced his opposition to President Obama and national Republicans who favor a ban on congressionally-directed spending commonly known as earmarks.
While supporting full disclosure of requested and funded earmarks, Begich said he'll continue to fight for Alaska's fair share of federal dollars to bring Alaska's roads, ports, airports, and other public facilities up to the standards taken for granted in other states.
"Alaska is in the unique position of being a young state with enormous unmet needs when it comes to basic public facilities vital to the economy and Alaskans' safety," Begich said. "In other states, roads, ports and public buildings have long been funded by the federal government. I'll continue to fight in congressional committees and through the appropriations process to make sure the basic needs of Alaskans are met."
President Obama and the incoming Republican majority in the U.S. House have announced their support for a ban on earmarks. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reversed his long-standing support for earmarks, saying he now supports a prohibition on them supported by extreme conservative members of his caucus. Senate Republicans are expected to vote today on supporting an earmark ban.
Begich is a longtime advocate of earmark reform. Since being elected to the Senate in 2008, Begich has disclosed on his Senate website all earmark requests made by Alaskans as well as those requests he advances for federal funding. He also requires proof of local, community support and other sources of funding for projects to demonstrate they are needs-based and provide local jobs.
"Alaska's congressional delegation knows the needs of local communities far better than federal bureaucrats in Washington," Begich said.
In less than two years in the Senate, Alaska communities and non-profits have proven a need for federal funds by placing nearly $10 billion in earmark requests with Begich's office. The senator has successfully secured funding for about $900 million in projects while recognizing the nation's fiscal conditions. Meanwhile, Begich was the only member of the Alaska congressional delegation to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which has helped Alaska's economy through a recession by bringing an estimated $2 billion to the state.
Begich said complaints that earmarks contribute to the national debt are overstated. For example, last year earmarks comprised less than one percent of the federal budget. Begich said he supports measures to reduce overall federal spending, including a freeze on some types of discretionary spending.