After adopting a ban on earmarks in the Senate GOP conference, Republicans in the Senate are now pushing their colleagues in the other party to embrace a three-year moratorium as well. Democrats up for reelection in 2012 will feel the most pressure to sign on to the ban as earmarks have become a popular, populist symbol of government corruption.
So far the reaction is mixed, according to a report in The Hill Wednesday. Senators are taking a look, and at 67 votes for passage the ban appears to have a steep climb. For freshmen like Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsManchin threatens 'zero' spending in blowup with Sanders: reports Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE (D-Del.), the prospect of not bringing home the bacon is particularly challenging. "I haven't come to a final position on it, but in the campaign what I said was that as long as other states' members are fighting for and getting money for infrastructure needs, then I will support a transparent, fair, congressionally-directed earmark process," Coons told The Hill.
Several GOP veterans have come out against the ban, including Sens. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBottom line Bottom line Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future MORE (R-Miss.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Navy probe reveals disastrous ship fire response Sailors didn't know what to do in USS Bonhomme Richard fire, Navy probe finds Pentagon says almost half of Afghan evacuees at US bases are children MORE (R-Okla.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) who argue that allowing the administration to direct all federal spending is an abdication of the legislative branch's power of the purse.
Just days after Republicans passed their own ban, which resulted from a push by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and new Tea Party-backed freshman senators, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) scored a $200 million settlement for an Arizona tribe's water-rights claim against the federal government, according to The Huffington Post. Kyl's office stated the provision is not an earmark, while Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised On The Money — Democrats tee up Senate spending battles with GOP MORE (D-Vt.) came to the floor to declare: "I do know an earmark when I see it. And this, my friends, is an earmark."
According to the report in The Hill, earmarks accounted for $15.9 billion in spending in 2010, but the co-chairman of President Obama's debt commission have estimated that tax legislation contains $1.1 trillion in earmarks.
Ban or no ban, earmarking will remain in the eye of the beholder. And in order to reduce our deficits, more cuts of consequence must be agreed upon.
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