Entries in Earmark Ban (6)


Senate Appropriations Chairman Says No Earmarks, Despite His Support of Pork

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Looks like the White House and Republicans have won the earmark argument -- at least for now.

After President Obama promised to veto any bills with earmarks and the House voted to do away with them, too, Senate Appropriations boss Daniel Inouye of Hawaii Tuesday said he will not accept any requests for them for two years due to the President’s veto threat, even though he still supports the use of pork.

“I continue to support the Constitutional right of members of Congress to direct investments to their states and districts under the fiscally responsible and transparent earmarking process that we have established,” Inouye said in a statement. “However, the handwriting is clearly on the wall. The President has stated unequivocally that he will veto any legislation containing earmarks, and the House will not pass any bills that contain them. Given the reality before us, it makes no sense to accept earmark requests that have no chance of being enacted into law.”

The Hawaiian lawmaker added that “at the appropriate time, I will once again urge the Senate to consider a transparent and fair earmark process that protects our rights as legislators to answer the petitions of our constituents, regardless of what the President or some Federal bureaucrat thinks is right.”

Inouye’s defense of earmarks echoes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s stance. Reid has vigorously defended earmarks in recent months, even telling ABC’s Jonathan Karl in an interview last week that the President’s ban was “an applause line” that was “only for show.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Reid Reiterates Earmarks Defense in Face of Obama's Proposed Ban

Photo Courtesy - Reid dot Senate dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Tuesday was asked if he might change his stance on pork now that President Obama is going to propose an earmark ban during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

Reid’s answer was pretty clear: Nope.

“I think this is an issue that any president would like to have, that takes power away from the legislative branch of government and I don’t think that’s helpful. I think it’s a lot of pretty talk and it’s only giving the president more power. He’s got enough power already,” Reid told reporters on Capitol Hill after a Democratic caucus meeting.

Reid’s comments Tuesday echo his statement last month, when he gave a passionate defense of pork on Dec. 16, hitting out at the president and Republicans alike.

“I am convinced that I do not want to give up more power to the White House, whether it's George Bush or Barack Obama,” Reid said last month. “I'm going to fight as hard as I can against President Obama on these earmarks, and my Republican colleagues who hate to vote for them but love to get them.

“I can’t accept the fact that people are saying, ‘Why should we vote to accept Congressionally-directed spending?’ That’s our job. That’s what we’re supposed to do,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


ABC News: President Obama to Propose Budget Freeze, Earmark Ban

Photo Courtesy - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Pursuing a path of deficit reduction and government reform, President Obama will in his State of the Union address call for a ban on earmarks and propose an overall budget freeze, ABC News has learned.

The proposals come as the president prepares to tackle the deficit and debt and as he faces a House of Representatives in Republican hands, many of whose members include those affiliated with the Tea Party who were voted into office in large measure by touting those key objectives.

The president will propose some new spending in certain areas that address the speech's theme of "How We Win the Future": innovation, education, and infrastructure. But those increases will be proposed as part of an overall budget freeze, which given the annual rate of growth is often seen in Washington, D.C., budgeting as a cut.

The FY 2011 budget was $3.8 trillion. Last year President Obama proposed a three-year hard freeze on non-security discretionary spending, to save $250 billion over the next decade; this would be much broader.

The president's critics say his proposed freezing of the budget at its stumulus-inflated 2008 levels is not  belt tightening at all.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate Shoots Down Binding Earmark Ban

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate shot down a bipartisan effort to impose a binding ban on earmarks Tuesday morning. Only 39 senators voted in favor of the ban, far short of the 67 votes needed to move forward with it.

GOP lawmakers have already adopted a voluntary earmark ban, but a group of four senators -- Republicans Tom Coburn and John McCain and Democrats Claire McCaskill and Mark Udall -- wanted to mandate a stronger binding moratorium. However, with the vast majority of Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, against such a ban, it was unlikely that it would gain traction in the Senate.

Only seven Senate Democrats voted in favor of banning the pork projects: McCaskill and Udall, plus Sens. Michael Bennet, Bill Nelson, Mark Warner, Evan Bayh and Russ Feingold. Across the aisle, eight Republicans broke with the majority of their party and voted against the ban: Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Thad Cochran, Bob Bennett, Susan Collins, James Inhofe, Dick Lugar, Richard Shelby and George Voinovich.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Senate Republicans Ban Earmarks; Will Democrats Follow?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republicans Tuesday took their war against government spending to a new level, voting behind closed doors to approve a moratorium on all congressional earmarks for two years.

The resolution, which is non-binding, is identical to the one approved by House Republicans in the current Congress and forbids Republicans from engaging in the practice of funneling federal tax dollars to pet projects in their home states.

House Democrats have restricted earmarks for private contractors but not outlawed them entirely.

Only Senate Democrats have yet to decide on whether they will impose any limits on earmarks, although at least two members -- Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and Colorado Sen. Mark Udall -- have said they want their caucus to follow suit.

A moratorium on earmarks throughout Congress would be a significant development and departure from what has become a common, if controversial, practice in recent years.

Congress approved 9,499 earmarked projects in fiscal year 2010 that totaled $15.9 billion, according to the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Earmarks account for less than one percent of overall federal spending.

The move by Republicans will also likely add pressure on President Obama, who has said he supports "cracking down on wasteful earmark spending, which we can't afford during these tough economic times."

But he has not called for eliminating the practice outright or threatened to veto bills that include earmarks.

President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform issued a report last week detailing ways to reduce the national debt by $4 trillion in the next 10 years, including an outright ban on all earmarks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


McConnell Reverses Course, Backs GOP Earmark Ban

Photo Courtesy - Office of Sen. Mitch McConnell(WASHINGTON) -- The top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell on Monday changed his stance and vowed to support an effort by other GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate to implement a party ban on earmarks, the special projects that members of Congress insert into spending bills.

“I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them. But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor as Congress reconvened for a lame-duck session set to focus on spending and taxes.

“And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government,” he said. “That’s why today I am announcing that I will join the Republican leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress.”

The earmarks issue has highlighted a divide within the Republican Party, a divide that Democrats would have loved to accentuate. Old guard members such as McConnell had opposed the ban, on the grounds that it would “save no money” and give the executive branch “a blank check” to decide where federal money gets spent.

“Every president, Republican or Democrat, would like to have a blank check from Congress to do whatever he chooses to do,” McConnell told the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington earlier this month.  “You could eliminate every congressional earmark and you would save no money,” he argued, even though the anti-spending group Citizens Against Government Waste said Congress had earmarks totaling $16.5 billion in fiscal year 2010.

Now, faced with a growing number of his own party getting behind the ban in the wake of the election, the Kentucky lawmaker has changed his stance.

The GOP vote, expected on Tuesday afternoon, will be conducted by secret ballot and will be non-binding, so senators would not have to follow through on it.

Both parties have long used earmarks to direct money to their districts, with members of the appropriations committees in both chambers particularly eager to continue the process so they can keep directing money to favored causes. But now the long-standing use of earmarks appears in jeopardy.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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