President Obama is reportedly planning to join with Congressional Republicans and call in tonight’s State Of The Union address for a ban on earmarking. In response, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate is saying the same thing he said when Republicans proposed an end to earmarking: Bad move.
At a press conference today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid summarily rejected the idea of a ban on the Congressional practice of tagging federal dollars for projects in members’ home districts — a staple of lawmaking in Washington that has become increasingly unpopular over the years.
“I don’t think that’s helpful. I think it’s a lot of pretty talk and it’s only giving the president more power,” Reid said when asked about the earmark language set of the SOTU. “He’s got enough power already.”
There’s not a lot new here — Obama has been calling for an end to earmarking for quite a while now, and Reid said just last month that he’d publicly oppose any president who tried to curb the practice. But with the House Republican majority already operating with a ban and the Senate minority living with their own earmark restrictions, Obama’s criticism of earmarking tonight will once again make Congressional Democrats the lone defenders of the practice in Washington.In December, Reid said this as Republicans reluctantly formed into line behind an earmark ban in the Senate:
I am convinced that I do not want to give up more power to the White House, whether it’s George Bush or Barack Obama. And I’m going to fight as hard as I can against President Obama on these earmarks — and my Republican colleagues who hate to vote for them but love to get them.
Today, he made good on his promise.