Updated: 11:29 p.m.
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the presumed next Speaker, said definitively Thursday that House Republicans will continue a moratorium on earmarks when they take over the majority in the chamber next year.
“There will be an earmark moratorium, that’s clear,” he said in an interview with Bret Baier on Fox News.
Boehner pushed through the House Republicans’ unprecedented earmark moratorium this year, but he had not previously committed to continuing it. Earmarks have been a controversial issue within the Republican Conference for years, pitting Boehner and the most fiscally conservative Members against appropriators and other lawmakers who value earmarks.
He also reiterated his opposition to earmarks. “I made it clear. This process is going to stop. I’ve been here 20 years, and I never asked for earmarks. I’ll never ask for one. I told my constituents in 1990 when they elected me, [if] they thought my job was to come to Washington and rob the Treasury on their behalf, they are voting for the wrong guy.”
Boehner reiterated his call for a moratorium in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that posted Thursday night.
Before Tuesday’s midterm elections, Boehner called for an end to “earmarking as we know it” in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, but he said then that the decision on how to handle the matter would be made by the Republican Conference. But the House GOP’s “Pledge to America” governing agenda, which was unveiled before the elections, did not discuss the moratorium issue.
When asked Wednesday about how Republicans plan to handle earmarks and the debt limit, Boehner said issues like those would be worked out during the transition to the next Congress.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who is running unopposed to become Majority Leader, called for an earmark moratorium in his own agenda document Wednesday and said the conference would likely vote on the issue the week of Nov. 15.
Cantor had been out front on the issue, writing an editorial several weeks ago calling for an extension of the moratorium.
Momentum for continuing the moratorium has been building for months, and the two Republicans vying to chair the House Appropriations Committee, Reps. Jerry Lewis (Calif.) and Hal Rogers (Ky.), added their support in the past week to the cause.