This is a big day. The Senate Republican Conference voted behind closed doors to eliminate Republican requests for earmarks in the 112th Congress! Your phone calls and emails to those Senators and Senators-Elect who had not yet gone on the record about how they would vote helped turn up the pressure and ensure that our officials heard the American people loud and clear. You can read more details here. (Sen. Jim DeMint says the vote passed nearly unanimously; click here to read about one stubborn hooligan who may buck his colleagues’ decision in the future.)
This is cause for celebration – yes – but our work is not yet done. The earmark ban is not legally binding, and only applies to the Republican Senators. It’s a great beginning, but only that: a first step. Taxpayers Against Earmarks’ leadership today outlined a simple path to eliminating earmarks as we know them. TAE founder and chairman, Joe Ricketts, and president, Brian Baker, explain:
The voters sent a clear message to stop reckless spending. Yet the earmarking system that perpetuates the power of incumbency, fosters a culture of dependency on the government, and produced the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” and influence-peddling scandals that sent many to prison, still exists. Washington keeps borrowing and spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need.
But there is now a unique opportunity to make changes: Our Democratic president and soon-to-be Republican-led House agree that it is time to end the corrupting and wasteful practice of earmarks.
President Barack Obama, in his post-election “mea culpa,” affirmed that he is “a strong believer that the earmarking process in Congress isn’t what the American people want to see when it comes to making tough decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent.”
Read their full commentary at Politico.com, and be sure to post your comments below. Now that the Senate Republicans have passed the ban, might the Senate Democrats, under the leadership of Taxpayer Hero Sen. Claire McCaskill, follow suit? Do you think Obama is serious about his commitment against earmarks? Join the discussion now!