Senate Democrats pressured GOP lawmakers to strip earmarks they had previously requested from the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.
Democrats put out a memo on Wednesday asking Senate Republicans about whether they would follow the lead of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and withdraw earmarks from the omnibus spending bill after having voted as a party to reject the practice in the next Congress.
"If Republicans are truly as opposed to earmarks as they would have us believe, why don’t they all follow Sen. Hatch’s example and ask Senate appropriators to strip their earmarks from the omnibus?" Senate Democrats asked in a memo to reporters.
Hatch had announced on Wednesday that he'd withdrawn his earmarks from the omnibus bill following the Senate Republican Conference's vote to put a moratorium on the practice. The omnibus package is cobbled together from previous unfinished bills that had been crafted before the GOP earmark ban.
Democrats have sought to make political hay of the issue by questioning Republicans' commitment to earmark reform.
GOP senators have at times stumbled with their explanation about the earmarks and the process behind it. Virtually all Republicans have announced their opposition to the omnibus, meaning that, if the package is defeated or blocked, Democrats' attacks might be rendered moot.
"I am actively working to defeat it. I think there are many Senate members who have provisions in it for their states who are also actively working to defeat it," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has earmarks in the omnibus, on Tuesday. "This bill should not go forward. We didn't pass a single appropriation bill."