Conservatives Complain GOP's Earmark Plan Doesn't Go Far Enough
Act Now, Not Later
By Bluey Posted in Congress | Congress | Earmarks | Jeb Hensarling | Republicans — Comments (6) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
As House Republicans unveiled their economic agenda today, conservatives expressed disappointment that it does nothing to address earmark reform now and instead calls for an "immediate moratorium" in the future. The document was drafted to lay out the GOP's agenda in January 2009 if Republicans reclaim control of the House.
Earmark critics, however, say that view is completely unrealistic. They think a total ban on earmarks must be instituted today because the chances of Republicans taking back the House are slim. "We need to lead by example and differentiate ourselves," a conservative staffer told me. "The economic agenda today will allow earmarks this year and the next if Republicans do not win the House. No fundamental change from the status quo."
The struggle over earmarks is reflected in the differing views of two GOP leaders: Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) and Policy Chairman Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.). The Hill reported the conflict earlier this week with Hensarling demanding action now and McCotter opposed to a "one-size-fits-all ban." In a memo released this afternoon, Hensarling reiterated his support for a ban. He could press the issue by bringing it to a conference-wide vote.
As I reported on RedState last night, the GOP's economic agenda includes many conservative proposals, including a flat tax, free-market health care, entitlement reform, balanced budget and energy production. Yet earmarks remain a sticking point despite Minority Leader John Boehner's attempt to reach a consensus.
Conservatives don't dispute the laudable policy goals included as part of the economic agenda -- many developed by the Republican Study Committee. But that's no excuse to take a pass on earmark reform today. Although it remains a divisive issue for Republicans, Hensarling should keep fighting for a ban on pork-barrel projects. Boehner faces no easy task bringing the GOP together, but he should view this as an opportunity for the GOP to distinguish itself from Democrats in advance of November's elections.
Hensarling's memo to Republican Study Committee members is below.
Dear RSC Colleague—
Conference Leadership has just unveiled its Economic Reform Agenda. Incorporated within that agenda are all of the relevant points of the RSC’s 8-point Action Plan save one. For those who worked so hard on the RSC plan, I congratulate you. I believe it was an important contribution and catalyst to the Conference’s plan, and I ask that you thank Leader Boehner for incorporating most of our Action Plan.
The portion of the plan not included, as of now, is the call for an immediate and unilateral earmark moratorium to be enacted today. As you have heard me state before, without action today, I fear the American people will never learn our party has called for a moratorium, while the Democrats stand for business as usual on pork-barrel spending. I know there are a number of legitimate issues to be resolved, and I hope we can resolve them soon.
For your information, some press reports concerning the RSC’s role in this situation are misleading. To make it clear, most of our membership believe it will probably prove necessary to discuss and resolve this issue at a special conference to be scheduled soon. What is accurate, as described by CQ Today, is that, “Boehner and Hensarling were working to find ways to persuade more Republicans, to join them in taking a ‘no earmarks’ pledge.”
We will speak more of this at today’s meeting, and I again thank you for your help in this effort.
Chairman of the Republican Study Committee