Politics

GOP to Embrace Earmark Ban Tuesday, But Not Dems

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stunned the political world when he announced Monday afternoon that he would support a two-year moratorium on earmarks when it is presented in his closed door conference meeting Tuesday. But don't look for the same from his Democratic counterpart.

Jim Manley, spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., released a statement saying, "It is up to each Senator whether or not they will support Congressionally directed funding to their state. From delivering $100 million in military projects for Nevada to funding education and public transportation projects in the state, Sen. Reid makes no apologies for delivering for the people of Nevada. He will always fight to ensure the state's needs are met."

Reid and McConnell are both long time Appropriations Committee members, and until Monday, McConnell had adamantly defended the practice. The Republican leader said he was listening to the voters, though, as he reversed his position.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a senior member of the spending panel indicated Monday he would not support the ban, saying, "I notice the ones who call for the earmarks are the first ones who call over (to a Cabinet Secy) and say, ‘I want this particular project approved before you get confirmation of your nominee'."

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, clearly fighting an uphill battle, was the lone Democrat to issue a statement of support for the ban on Monday, saying, "I welcome Senator McConnell to the fight to ban earmarks. Tax dollars are always best distributed based on merit. I'm glad that Republican leadership is coming around to this idea; now it's my Democratic colleagues turn to get on board."

In her four year career in the Senate, McCaskill has not requested an earmark.