Who said bipartisanship was hard? President Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have already found something to agree on in the next Congress, weeks before it convenes for the first time. In a statement released by the White House afternoon, Obama praised McConnell’s decision to cave to tea party demands and back an earmark ban in the Republican Senate caucus next year.
“I welcome Senator McConnell’s decision to join me and members of both parties who support cracking down on wasteful earmark spending, which we can’t afford during these tough economic times,” Obama said.
The president has been trying to tamp down the use of earmarks for awhile now, and he used the occasion of the Republican Senate leader and noted earmarker McConnell’s change of heart on the topic to call on members of his own party to give up earmarking, too.
“In the days and weeks to come, I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to not only end earmark spending, but to find other ways to bring down our deficits for our children,” Obama said.In this weekend’s YouTube address, Obama focused on earmarks as indicative of what is wrong with Washington. Obama highlighted his own efforts to reduce earmarking in the past, such as banning earmarks from the stimulus bill and launching earmarks.gov, which aims to make earmarks more transparent. Early in his presidency, Obama found that making good on his campaign promise to slash Congressional earmarking was harder than it looked.
Watch the address:
McConnell’s decision to back an earmark ban and Obama’s decision to make some political hay out of it for himself could put pressure on Democrats in the Senate, who have rejected an earmark ban in the past. It’s unlikely that Democrats would pass a ban, though it is somewhat likely that what earmarking they continue to do may be the subject of closer scrutiny.
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