SOTU FACT: Republicans Have Already Adopted a Ban on Earmarks – Will Senate Democrats Join Us?

CLAIM: The president says he will veto any legislation that contains earmarks.

  • "[B]ecause the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.” (President Obama, State of the Union Address, January 25, 2011)

FACT: Republicans have already adopted a ban on earmarks; will President Obama finally urge Senate Democrats to do the same?

  • On November 18, 2010, House Republicans unanimously adopted a measure by freshman Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) to ban earmarks for the 112th Congress. Senate Republicans voluntarily adopted a similar ban on earmarks.
  • President Obama has said we can’t afford “wasteful earmark spending… during these tough economic times” – despite having repeatedly signed into law Democratic bills loaded with thousands of earmarks.
  • According to Politico, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “told reporters that we have a ‘constitutional duty to dole out congressionally-directed spending’.”
  • The Heritage Foundation explained that “earmarks are often used to buy votes” for more government spending and other job-destroying policies.

KEEPING THE PLEDGE: In the Pledge to America, the new majority promised to “curb Washington’s spending habits” and fundamentally change the way Congress spends taxpayer dollars to help end the job-crushing spending binge and eliminate some of the uncertainty facing job creators.

  • After Republicans adopted the full ban on earmarks, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said, “This earmark ban shows the American people we are listening and we are dead serious about ending business as usual in Washington.  … We hope President Obama will follow through on his support for an earmark ban by pressing Democratic leaders to join House and Senate Republicans in taking this critical step to restore public trust.”