Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), one of the most anti-earmark crusaders in Congress, says not having earmarks to trade makes this process harder for the leadership but better.

"It is the most refreshing thing to see what's going on there," Flake said emerging from the leadership offices where reluctant Republicans were wolfing down pizza. "This type of thing a few years ago would have cost us $20 billion. Now, a couple of pizzas and you're there."

Flake also said made reference to the record three-hour vote on the House floor in 2003 where then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) told thjen-Rep. Nick Smith (R-MI) his son would get $100,000 in campaign cash if he voted for the Medciare bill. If Smith voted nay, DeLay warned that his son would never sit in the House.

"Nobody's kids who were running for office were threatened," Flake said.

Regardless, Flake said sands were slipping through the hourglass on the bill.

"Time is running out," said Flake.

Flake wouldn't say how he would vote. But he told Fox yesterday he was opposed.