It's official: GOP leaders in the House and Senate have both confirmed that they will buck calls from the Tea Party and not back a ban on federal earmarks.
House Republican leader John Boehner addressed the issue Thursday night during an interview with Fox News, stating that he approved of a temporary moratorium on congressional earmarks but would not pursue a complete ban.
BAIER: The guys in line to be Chairman [of the Appropriations Committee], they're big fans of earmarks.
BOEHNER: There's gonna be an earmark moratorium, it's pretty clear.
BAIER: Why not an outright ban?
BOEHNER: Only because some things that people call earmarks here wouldn't classify as an earmark to the American people.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) was similarly dismissive of the idea during a speech at the Heritage Foundation on Thursday, arguing that an earmark ban would be unproductive, then turning his criticism toward Obama.
You can eliminate every congressional earmark and you would save no money. It's really an argument about discretion. We decide how much we're going to spend either when we pass a budget or in the case of this past year when we don't pass a budget, we produce a top-line for the discretionary spending. That top-line determines what gets spent. Beneath the top-line there are arguments going back to Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson between the executive branch and the legislative branch over sayso.... That's been a much-discussed issue on the campaign trail, and we'll take a look at it when we get back. But I'm sure the President would love to have a legislative blank check.
Tea Party activists and some conservative legislators have aggressively opposed members of Congress carving out spending projects for their home districts and states, and some have publicly announced that an earmark ban would be a primary mission.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a hero of conservatives, said Wednesday that such an understaking should be a priority in both the House and the Senate.
"We can't have 500 congressmen and senators who think it's their job to bring home the bacon -- and that's what's going to change," Demint told CBS's "The Early Show." "One of the first things we'll do in the House and Senate is ban earmarks as Republicans -- that'll get our eyes back on fixing our tax code, fixing social security and Medicare, getting America back to work."
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