House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., sidestepped a fight with outside conservative groups and fiscal hawks and avoided public backlash Wednesday when he resisted calls from some within his conference to bring back earmarks, those pet projects slipped into spending bills that can sweeten the pot for legislators and help get bills passed.

But many Republicans admitted Wednesday was just about process and timing, and were confident that earmarks, which some call “directed congressional spending,” will come back in some form.

“It’s about optics,” Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., said before Ryan convinced sponsors of two amendments to partially roll back the 2011 earmark ban to pull their proposals.

House Republicans huddled privately for three hours Wednesday afternoon hashing out the rules that will govern the chamber in the 115th Congress. They emerged after the earmark plans were shelved, but some indicated it would just be a temporary delay.

“Today, Speaker Paul Ryan pledged to create a transparent and accountable process to restore Congress’s constitutional spending authority by the end of the first quarter of 2017,” Rep. Culberson, R-Texas, stated after dropping his push to adjust the ban. “My colleagues and I agreed to withdraw our amendment based on the speaker’s promise because we are confident we can develop a method to handle directed congressional spending in a way that gives constituents confidence that their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent effectively.”

Both proposals reportedly enjoyed wide support within the conference, but Ryan understood the timing was off, said veteran Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho who sits on the Appropriations Committee. Easing the earmark ban in a closed-door meeting on a secret ballot right after voters swept President-elect Trump into office, largely on his promise “to drain the swamp” of Washington’s political class, would not have looked good, he said.

“The speaker was very wise,” he said, adding that the issue should be publicly debated and voted on by the full House.

“We shouldn’t be the only ones who have to carry this burden,” Simpson added. Democrats would pulverize Republicans if they unilaterally altered or rescinded the ban, “even though they want to change it as much as we do. So it ought to be done in a bipartisan fashion and I think the speaker made the right decision postponing it.”

Republicans bore the brunt of the public’s distaste for earmarks. They controlled Congress when high-profile examples of abuse surfaced, such as the all-GOP Alaska delegation’s “bridge to nowhere” and a series of earmarks that ultimately landed former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., in prison.

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Former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, ended the practice when Republicans regained control of both chambers after the 2010 elections, and current GOP leaders are loathe to appear as bringing Congress back to the good old days of pork.

“This process was abused for a long period of time and we need to reform the entire way that unelected bureaucrats control federal taxpayer dollars and rewrite regulations that are having a negative impact on our economy,” Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said after his colleagues acceded to Ryan’s request.

Those seeking to reintroduce the age-old practice are careful to frame it as a constitutional imperative — the legislative branch reasserting itself after eight years of executive Democratic overreach.

“We want to work on all of this with President Trump and making that as we restore the balance of powers so that the American people have true oversight and responsibility for taxpayer dollars and unelected bureaucrats aren’t writing regulations,” Scalise said. Republicans want to “frankly return that power back to the people.”

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