11.05.2010 0

A GOP Earmark Showdown in Congress

It hasn’t been three days since the GOP took control of the House and gained several seats in the Senate and the GOP leaders of both chambers are already at odds. And what exactly is the issue they are disagreeing on? Earmarks.

Probable Speaker-Designate John Boehner wrote in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed today that he believes “the House must adopt a moratorium on all earmarks as a signal of our commitment to ending business as usual in the spending process.” Boehner has always had a no-earmark policy and has never asked for an earmark for his district. And he has made absolutely clear that he will do whatever it takes to ban such spending in the House.

But in the Senate, such sentiments on earmarks are not shared by the GOP leadership.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is an earmarker. In the past year, he has earmarked $113 million, according to Politico. McConnell has made it clear that he does not agree with Boehner on such moratoriums.

In his speech at the Heritage Foundation the other day, McConnell said, “As I think all of you know, you can eliminate every congressional earmark and save no money.” Clearly, McConnell has no plans to curb earmarking in the Senate.

And not only is McConnell a problem in the Senate for Boehner’s earmark moratorium, many of the GOP Senators are on the side of continued earmark spending.

Who are these Senate GOP earmarkers? The group of Senate earmarkers consist of people like newly elected Illinois Senator Mark Kirk and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, amongst several others. Thirteen GOP Senators voted to block an earmark moratorium sponsored by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) earlier this year.

How Boehner and McConnell handle this issue will be a great indicator of what to expect from the next session of Congress.

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