Lawmakers may not be giving up earmarks en masse, but the negative stigma of pork-barrel spending has rubbed off on some members of Congress.
In the Senate, conservative champion Jim DeMint and veteran appropriator Ted Stevens clashed openly during a meeting late last year. DeMint acknowledged that his quest to end earmarks has earned him “a lot of enemies” within his own party.
Over in the House, DeMint’s message appears to be gaining traction. Take recent remarks from Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, for example. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Price has decided to go cold turkey on pork.
[L]ast year alone Price used earmarks to secure more than $600,000 for his district, including an expansion of the Cobb County expressway. He was among the 12 Georgia congressmen who requested about 180 earmarks worth more than $200 million.
But that typical congressional attitude — to condemn publicly and benefit privately — has got to end, Price said Tuesday.
And so to bolster his own credibility on the issue and set a daunting standard for others, Price said he’s no longer going to ask for earmarks that would fund projects back home.
“This was a while in coming,” Price said. “It was time to stand up or leave.”
Taxpayers can only hope other lawmakers will follow in Price’s footsteps. It may just be one small victory, but with no end in sight for earmarks, it’s a positive development.