This editorial originally appeared in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and was distributed by The Associated Press.
Now that federal earmarks are once again being used by Congress, some lawmakers are correctly seeking input from their constituents back home on worthy projects that may qualify for a Congressionally Directed Spending request.
Here in West Virginia, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has reopened a webpage where communities, non-profits and other constituents can submit requests for Congressionally Directed Spending, which is the official term now being used for federal earmarks. But interested groups and entities will need to act quickly.
According to Manchin, the Senate Appropriations Committee will once again allow communities and non-profits the opportunity to request targeted funding through Congressionally Directed Spending in the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations process.
“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I work hard to ensure taxpayer dollars are allocated to priorities that benefit West Virginians and all Americans while remaining fiscally responsible,” Manchin said. “Investing in West Virginia has always been a top priority and these federal investments spur innovation and boost our economy, while also supporting the needs of our state.”
Several local projects were already approved for earmarks late last year, including a $2.9 million award for a natural gas line at John Nash Boulevard in Bluefield and a $2 million award for a new sports complex project in Mercer County that will include an outdoor recreation-tourism focus combined with a commercial component.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., talked about Congressionally Directed Spending requests during a meeting with local officials last week in Princeton.
Capito said the funds were once called “earmarks,” but said they “got a bad name” for abuses of the system and ended about 10 years ago. She says how the money is spent now is much more limited, and should be directed toward local and regional projects that have more of a direct impact on residents.
Such projects can range anywhere from supporting rural communities through investments in infrastructure and broadband to funding programs that help small businesses or address the drug epidemic, according to Manchin. He says this year the Senate Appropriations Committee is allowing state and local governments, non-profits and public entities to request targeted funds through Congressionally Directed Spending.
This is an opportunity for local communities, governments, non-profits and others to request federal funding for important projects in our region. Local governing bodies and other entities who have not yet considered a funding request should give ample consideration to doing so before the March 12 deadline.