House GOP votes to ban all earmarks

House Republicans approved a conference-wide moratorium on earmarks on Thursday, one day after a House committee enacted a ban on for-profit earmarks. 

The Republicans' moratorium is more extensive than the House Appropriations Committee's ban in that it applies to all earmarks for all members of the caucus.

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The moratorium was passed via a "strong" voice vote, according to Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who participated in the nearly two-hour-long conference meeting.

Republicans had discussed enacting a ban in the last Congress, but a vote never materialized.

A number of Democrats and Republicans have undertaken efforts to rein in so-called "pork-barrel" spending in recent days, sparking a battle between the parties over who can best reform the earmark process.

Good-government groups and some lawmakers have called for earmarks to be reined in, saying they are symbols of wasteful spending and can lead to corruption. Both parties are now looking for an edge in an election year.

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) hailed the decision in an interview on Fox News.

"Republicans did something very dramatic today that's going to make it very uncomfortable for business as usual," he said. "So now House Republicans are going to the American people and saying we want a clean break from the runaway spending in the past. And that's going to be quite a contrast from this Congress and the administration."

Senate Republicans appeared receptive to the House's proposal Thursday.


Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) offered a one-year moratorium on earmarks on the Senate floor as the House Republicans were taking their vote. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) specifically complimented the House's plan in a Twitter post.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey's (D-Wis.) proposal to cut all for-profit earmarks on his panel was met with staunch opposition from his Senate counterpart, Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cheered the effort and has floated the idea of a full earmark ban. 

Freshman Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) on Thursday issued a statement calling for an end to all earmarks.

“I believe we must put a stop to all earmarks and use the savings to reduce the deficit,” he said.