Top House GOP appropriator backs earmark freeze


Appropriators normally resists restrictions on the earmark process, through which lawmakers direct federal money for projects in their districts and states. But House appropriators and senior House Democrats and Republicans have all called for measures to rein in earmark spending, which will near $16 billion in 2010, according to the non-profit group Taxpayers for Common Sense. 

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has called for a permanent ban on earmarks going to for-profit companies, while GOP leadership wants a 1-year ban on all earmark spending. 

The push back is coming from the Senate. Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), the GOP's top Republican appropriator in the upper chamber, has joined with Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) in opposing Obey's proposed earmark ban. Senate appropriators argue that lawmakers should have the ability to direct federal funding to specific projects and shouldn't cede that power to the executive branch.