WASHINGTON – Minority Leader John Boehner threatened Democratic leaders Tuesday, vowing to slow down legislative activities in the House until Democrats agree to open up earmarking policy so that lawmakers disclose their pet projects earlier in the bill-making process.
"Republicans today are going to declare war on our Democratic majority over these secret slush funds," Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Republicans are hoping to hold Democrats to an earlier promise to make earmark requests more transparent by revealing where earmarks are designated and which lawmaker is requesting them before spending bills reach the House floor. Democrats want to release that information during the conference committee process, well after the House votes for appropriations.
Boehner, R-Ohio, said he is upset over the change of heart, and Democrats need to "realize the errors of their ways."
Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said Monday he would kill all pet projects if Republican leaders "demagogue" the issue. Obey said lawmakers had submitted more than 32,000 earmark requests this year
Democrats rewrote House rules adopted in the last Congress to require that earmark requests and their sponsors be publicized during a bill's drafting and debate. Obey said earlier this month those requests would not be available until after the House voted on the bills to send to a House-Senate conference committee.
"If they think they can demagogue the earmarks process all the year long and expect Democrats to carry the burden of passing earmarks, they're wrong. ... There will be no earmarks for anybody," Obey said.
According to Citizens Against Government Waste, the fiscal year 2007 defense and homeland security appropriations bills contained 2,658 projects at a cost of $13.2 billion. The watchdog group notes that only two of the 11 spending bills were passed by Congress last year. The rest were completed in an omnibus measure, which was stripped of all earmarks as a result of infighting in 2006 that left the legislation for the 110th Congress to wrap.
FOX News' Molly Hooper and The Associated Press contributed to this report.