Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pulled out the rebellious rhetoric Thursday morning, telling Tea Partyers to "grab your pitchforks" against the bipartisan request of more than $8 billion dollars in earmarks in the proposed $1 trillion-plus omnibus spending legislation.
On an appearance on Fox News's "Fox and Friends," McCain highlighted a few desired appropriations that he thought were particularly egregious, such as a $300,000 cutout for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, a grant meant to fund an ongoing experiment about the origins of island habitation; a $1 million expenditure to replace a sewer pipeline in an Alaskan town of 1,700 people; and $1 billion to aid with the implementation of the health care reform law.
The White House said Thursday that it would have preferred a spending bill without earmarks, but that the current version would have to suffice -- even according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- much to the chagrin of Sen. McCain.
Senate Republicans came to a different consensus, however, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who had earlier loaded the omnibus spending bill with earmark requests of his own, urging Congress to pass a less-expensive, less-inclusive, one-page version of the spending bill that would provide for two months of funding. A number of Republicans who had pushed for appropriations have now come out against the 1,924-page spending bill, which the GOP is planning to have read on the Senate floor in order to stall debate.