U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), John McCain (R-AZ) and Mark Udall (D-CO) today announced their intention to force the U.S. Senate to hold a public vote on a binding earmark moratorium at the earliest opportunity. The moratorium would go into effect immediately and last through fiscal year 2013. A vote could happen as early as tomorrow.
"The greatest national security threat facing our nation today is our national debt and a Congress that refuses to acknowledge the depth of our challenges. Earmarks are not only wasteful but are terrible distraction for both parties. The sooner we get rid of earmarks the sooner we can go to work on the difficult task of getting our budget under control," Dr. Coburn said.
"I've been working to change the earmark culture in Washington since the day I was sworn in, but frankly it's been a lonely fight for Senators like Dr. Coburn, Senator McCain and me until very recently," McCaskill said. "It's encouraging to see so many new faces join this effort over the last few days and I am excited to work with them in finally ending the flawed practice of earmarks. The truth is that earmarks are simply not a good way to spend tax dollars -- I believe that funding should always be based on merit, not politics."
"The time has come for Congress to put a stop to the corrupt practice of earmarking once and for all," said McCain. "Every time Congress passes an earmark laden appropriations bill we are robbing future generations of their ability to attain the American dream. This is simply immoral. And it is, of course, unconscionable to waste money in these difficult times on pork barrel projects that have little purpose other than to improve the re-election prospects of their authors."
"Out-of-control spending has caused us to rack up huge deficits, which now threaten our future economic prosperity and our national security. The American people want us to show them that we're serious about taking action to solve this problem. The only way we can reform the status quo is if everyone takes responsibility for the problem. Not only will I not request earmarks, I'm going to work to end the process so that Congress can focus on what Americans want most -- a secure economic future," said Udall.
The bi-partisan moratorium, which would apply to all bills in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013, would create a rule to allow members to raise points of order against any bill that includes an earmark. The definition of earmarks under the moratorium is:
"a provision or report language included primarily at the request of a Senator or Member of the House of Representatives providing, authorizing, or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority, or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or Congressional district, other than through a statutory or administrative formula-driven or competitive award process."