House Republicans had an opportunity to take a bold stand on pork by declaring a unilateral moratorium on earmarking in 2008. Instead, they offered one in conjunction with the Democrats, who scoffed at the notion of ending the bacon ride for even a single year. Porkbusters decried the lost opportunity for Republicans in building a message of clean government and real transparency.
Jim DeMint has taken up the cause in the upper chamber instead. He plans on introducing legislation that will force the moratorium on the entire Congress:
Hoping to bring the House fight over earmark reform to the Senate, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) will propose a full one-year moratorium on considering bills with earmarks as part of the fiscal 2009 budget resolution, the lawmaker said Monday.
DeMint, who will discuss the moratorium during today’s weekly GOP luncheon, said he believes his proposal could create the political room needed to bring reform to the process.
“Let’s get real. Even Rep. Henry Waxman [D-Calif.] over in the House says ‘We’re not going to fix it while we’re doing it,’” DeMint said, adding that “the only way we’ll fix it is if we say ‘Let’s go cold turkey for a year.’ The best thing we could do this year is come up with some good reform ideas.” Waxman recently agreed to suspend the use of earmarks, one of the few Democrats who have joined with Republicans on the issue.
DeMint will propose an amendment on the upcoming budget resolution. It would force the Senate to go on record opposing or supporting the moratorium, an unpleasant prospect in an election year. If passed, the amendment would make any bill with earmarks, as defined by the Senate, out of order. That includes appropriations and authorizations, cutting down on the potential work-arounds.
Will the Senate pass the bill? Probably not. They may not even get all of the Republicans to vote yes. Ted Stevens and Thad Cochran would be two likely nay votes. John McCain would probably fly back to DC to cast a yes vote, though, and that kind of pressure might push more Republicans into supporting it. McCain could also use the vote to highlight a key difference between himself and Barack Obama if Obama either skips the vote or votes to oppose it.
It’s time to contact your Senators. Let them know that the voters have tired of seeing Congress use our money to protect their incumbencies. Call 202-224-3121 and make your case politely and in detail. Support DeMint and other leaders on pork reform and help force Congress into more responsible and accountable governance.