Trump told Congress to consider bringing back earmarks. Here’s what that means.

President Donald Trump, to the surprise of many in his own party, told a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers this week, “maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks.”

“Our system lends itself to not getting things done, and I hear so much about earmarks — the old earmark system — how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks,” Trump said at the bipartisan meeting on immigration on Tuesday.

The room erupted in laughter. Trump had stumbled into a contentious partisan debate in Congress, and landed on the wrong side.

Congressional pork, also known as earmarks, is money lawmakers pile on to already-moving legislation for special projects in their districts, usually in exchange for a vote. They became severely unpopular in the early 2000s, and have been banned since 2011, at the behest of Republicans.

For decades earmarks were used as deal sweeteners: Lawmakers would take difficult votes with their party but be able to go home to constituents with funding for a much-needed bridge, dam, post office, or another federal project. The practice resulted in some notable scandals, including former California Republican Rep. Duke Cunningham and lobbyist Jack Abramoff going to jail for earmark-related bribes, and then there was the $223 million earmark for the “Bridge to Nowhere” to connect an 8,000 person Alaskan town to an airport.

Democrats put in ethics safeguards around earmarks in 2007, requiring members to publicly disclose requests. But in 2011, when Republicans took control of the House, they banned the practice altogether.

“Earmarks have become a symbol of a Congress that has broken faith with the people,” former House Speaker John Boehner said at the time.

Now, after a year of experiencing Read More Here