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Will the Senate Break Its Promise on Earmarks?

Posted By Rob Bluey On February 24, 2012 @ 9:43 am In Ongoing Priorities,Scribe | Comments Disabled


U.S. senators last year promised they wouldn’t pass any bill with earmarks [2] during the 112th Congress. President Obama even said he would veto legislation that contained pork-barrel projects [3].

But with the Senate set to debate a transportation bill next week, one lawmakers is crying foul.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) uncovered what he says is a $45 million earmark for the state of Nevada [4]. It appears on page 463 of the bill and rescinds unspent funds from a project in Nevada and directs that money to the state for another use.

The money was originally earmarked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for a levitating train from Las Vegas to Disneyland [5]. But after that project was scrapped, Nevada’s Department of Transportation now wants to spend the money to widen a road to the Las Vegas airport [6].

A spokeswoman for Reid disputes Johanns’ claim that the language in the transportation bill constitutes an earmark.

“There is no new spending in this provision,” Kristen Orthman, a Reid spokeswoman, told the Las Vegas Sun [6]. She argued the bill’s language “provides Nevada with additional flexibility and supports more than 1,500 jobs in a state that has the highest unemployment rate in the country.”

Not so fast, argues Johanns. He has introduced an amendment [7] stripping the language from the bill. He hopes it is considered next week when the Senate takes up the transportation measure.

“It’s a matter of trust,” Johanns said. “The President said he would not sign any legislation containing an earmark, and Congress has promised the American people a highway bill without earmarks. I won’t break that promise.”

The two-year earmark moratorium was the result of widespread public outcry over pork-barrel projects emanating from Washington.

Senate Rule 44 [8] defines an earmark as, “a provision or report language included primarily at the request of a Senator providing, authorizing, or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority, or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or Congressional district, other than through a statutory or administrative formula-driven or competitive award process.”

Earlier this month, Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) brought a measure to the floor that would permanently ban earmarks [9]. It failed, 40-59.

Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/02/24/will-the-senate-breaks-its-promise-on-earmarks/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/3-DEM-012512-25.jpg

[2] wouldn’t pass any bill with earmarks: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/feb/1/senate-democrats-bow-earmarks/

[3] veto legislation that contained pork-barrel projects: http://dailycaller.com/2011/01/25/obama-vows-to-veto-any-bill-with-earmarks/

[4] $45 million earmark for the state of Nevada: http://johanns.senate.gov/public/?p=PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=0ad9f3af-2304-41cb-991e-a004cc16d1b5&ContentType_id=bc82adff-27b4-4832-8fd6-aecbe3e7d8e3

[5] levitating train from Las Vegas to Disneyland: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_16/c3980065.htm

[6] wants to spend the money to widen a road to the Las Vegas airport: http://m.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/feb/15/45-million-nevada-earmark-reid-says-no-nebraska-se/

[7] introduced an amendment: http://www.redstate.com/dhorowitz3/2012/02/15/theres-one-earmark-in-senate-highway-bill/

[8] Senate Rule 44: http://rules.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=RuleXLIV

[9] permanently ban earmarks: http://www.redstate.com/brian_d/2012/02/02/senate-porkers-defeat-earmark-ban/

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