Senate declines to abstain from earmarks
The U.S. Senate on Thursday rejected by a 71-29 vote a one-year moratorium on inserting pork barrel projects into legislation.
Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee who co-sponsored the effort to reduce government waste, said during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania on Friday that if elected president he would veto every bill that has earmarks attached to it. McCain has tried for several years to reform the earmark process in Congress.
He chided fellow Republicans for not standing up to fight wasteful spending. “The inability of the U.S. Senate to get more than 29 votes is an interesting commentary on how (lawmakers) are disconnected from the American people,” McCain said.
Democratic presidential contenders Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were in the minority that voted for the measure, but McCain raised the pressure by calling on them to ask the administration not to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in earmark funding they’ve already secured.
Last year Congress approved 12,884 requests by lawmakers for pet projects, down from 15,877 in 2005. The multiyear surface transportation-spending bill that year was criticized for being loaded down with 6,300 earmarks worth some $24 billion.
In January, President Bush challenged Congress to cut earmarks in half and issued an executive order that directs agency heads to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by Congress. Agencies will not obligate or spend funds that are included in not included in the text of a law. It is common practice on Capitol Hill to insert pet projects in conference committee statements, managers reports and other documents. ' Eric Kulisch