House Minority Leader John Boehner said Thursday that he wants a one year ban on congressional earmarks – those costly projects often slipped into legislation at the request of special interests -- as a way of reducing the federal budget deficit.
Boehner and several other House Republicans, including his minority whip, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), called for bipartisan support for a resolution clamping down on government spending for special projects, often derided as "pork."
"We are not the same Republican party that was fired in 2006," Cantor said. "Not only are we dedicated to cleaning up the process, we also want to take the money and put it towards retiring the debt."
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), boasted that he had 164 co-sponsors, but Republicans are unlikely to get enough Democratic support to pass the legislation even if all 177 of them sign on to it.
Since the Republican Conference recently adopted its own one-year ban on earmark requests, the Goodlatte bill is intended to pressure Democrats to join in the effort. Bohener (R-Ohio) called earmarks the kind of spending that is "scaring Americans to death" and said the ban would be a step in the direction of responsible government.
Though Goodlatte recognized that funding of pork projects makes up a relatively small percentage of the federal budget, he said his resolution also calls for a bipartisan House-Senate commission to address the entire budget, spending and earmarks.
Democrats slammed the GOP earmark reform as a distraction.
"I think it is a fundamental error to take the position they are taking," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Thursday at a breakfast with reporters, sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
According to Hoyer, a moratorium on earmarks would force to lawmakers to go "hat in hand" to President Obama to find money to pay for bridge repairs, waterway improvements and other important projects. He called the proposed earmark ban "hypocritical" and pointed to documented spending by the GOP during the Bush administration.
But House Republicans say they won't be begging the Obama administration for cash because they won't be spending it.
"The primary goal for this year is -- don't spend the money, said Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).
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