Senate GOP curtails earmarks

November 17, 2010

By Seth McLaughlin-The Washington Times

Senate Republicans on Tuesday voted to ban “pork-barrel” spending as a couple of Democrats rushed to join the fight on a politically potent issue that has enraged voters and helped give rise to the GOP‘s “tea party”-infused midterm election victories.

The GOP caucus announced the decision hours after four senators – two Republicans and two Democrats – vowed to force the Senate to hold a public vote on a earmark moratorium that would run through 2013.

The “greatest national security threat facing our nation today is our national debt and a Congress that refuses to acknowledge the depth of our challenges,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, who offered the resolution with Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican.

Following in the footsteps of the House GOP, the 47-member incoming Senate Republican Conference in a voice vote passed a nonbinding resolution barring members from requesting earmarks for two years. The move is designed to reduce spending and rein in the costly horse-trading of pet projects. It also puts pressure on Democrats and soothes divisions among GOP leaders and conservative members of the caucus.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he would allow a vote to go forward on the proposal, although he personally opposes it. “I think it would be a major step backward,” the Nevada Democrat said.

Though they represent less than 1 percent of the federal budget, earmarks have become a symbol of what’s wrong in Washington when lawmakers are scrambling for ways to ease voter anxiety over spending, the deficit and national debt.

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