House Republicans scored a significant victory in their war on earmarks today when influential Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, broke with party leaders to call for an immediate moratorium on earmarks in 2009 spending bills.
I think our best approach would be to suspend all earmarks for the 2009 appropriations cycle while we consider the right reforms for the earmark process. As a result, I will not submit any requests to the Appropriations Committee for this fiscal year. I look forward, however, to working with Chairman Obey, Speaker Pelosi, and all my colleagues on improving the earmark process.
Waxman’s statement is significant because he holds an important House committee post and is considered a trusted lieutenant of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Although a couple Senate Democrats have vowed to give up earmarks, Waxman becomes the first Democrat in the House to make the pledge. The Club for Growth puts the number at 22 representatives and six senators who have sworn off earmarks. By party breakdown, it’s 25 Republicans and 3 Democrats.
Waxman’s announcement comes on the same day Republicans ratcheted up their messaging campaign against earmarks. House Minority Leader John Boehner launched a congressionally sanction website on earmark reform, featuring the latest news and information on pork-barrel spending.
Washington cannot be fixed until the earmarks are stopped. And this website will be a valuable tool in House Republicans’ fight to bring real change to a process that has undermined the public’s trust in their leaders in Congress. I am hopeful the Majority will join House Republicans in committing to real, meaningful reform, but in the meantime, this website will shine a spotlight on their broken promises and empty rhetoric on earmarks.
Members of the Republican Study Committee were meeting tonight to plot their next move. Although Boehner has pressed for Pelosi to institute an immediate earmark moratorium, many House conservatives want the entire GOP conference to swear off earmarks regardless of what Democrats do.
Rep. John Campbell, chairman of the RSC’s budget and spending task force, told bloggers at the Heritage Foundation today that he and the “band of merry earmark warriors” in the House wouldn’t shy away from criticizing Republicans who continued to request earmarks.
Campbell also addressed the reasons earmarks have become so addictive and why it’s important for Republicans to take a strong stand against them.