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Earmark Fight Heads To Senate

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 said he will offer the moratorium as an amendment to the budget resolution, which is expected to come up the week before Congress breaks for the Easter recess March 14. The language, which if passed would be binding on the Senate, would make any legislation including an earmark out of order for Senate floor consideration. DeMint’s proposal will use the definition of an earmark included in S. 1, the Senate ethics bill, and would cover both appropriations measures and authorization bills.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been pushing his Conference to adopt a moratorium, while Waxman represents what outside reformers hope may be the beginnings of a Democratic push. Democrats argue they have implemented historic earmark reform.

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