I am disappointed that the Senate has failed to pass a permanent earmark ban. We appreciate the efforts by Senators McCaskill and Toomey to end earmarks. The American people are frustrated that their elected officials can’t stop spending their hard-earned tax dollars on boondoggles, such as a bridge to nowhere. With the current earmark moratorium expiring at the end of 2012, if Congress does not end this destructive practice once and for all, the earmark favor factory will re-open for business.
Thirteen Republicans voted against the Toomey ban. One of them was Indiana’s Dick Lugar, who faces a tough primary challenge from conservative state treasurer Richard Mourdock (John Miller’s NR profile can be found here). He drew particular wrath from the Club for Growth:
“Senator Lugar’s vote against a permanent ban on earmarks is typical of a career politician who has been in Washington far too long,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “The Club for Growth PAC has been closely watching Indiana’s Republican U.S. Senate primary. After Senator Lugar showed his continuing commitment to wasteful pork spending today, we are considering doing more than just watching.”
For the record, joining Lugar in the GOP baker’s dozen were Alexander (Tenn.), Blunt (Mo.), Cochran (Miss.), Collins (Maine), Hoeven (N.D.), Hutchison (Texas), Inhofe (Okla.), Murkowski (Alaska), Roberts (Kan.), Sessions (Ala.), Shelby (Ala.), Wicker (Miss.). Democrats who voted for the ban were Bennett (Colo.), Hagan (N.C.), McCaskill (Mo.), Nelson (Fla.), Stabenow (Mich.), Udall (Colo.), and Warner (Va.). Kirk (R., Ill.), who is ill, did not vote.
UPDATE: A Lugar aide writes “So the Obama administration should make all the funding decisions?” and forwards the Senator’s statement defending his vote against the ban, which he says “leaves the public with the impression that Congress is attempting to reduce spending, when in fact it will not. Eliminating earmarks does not save taxpayer dollars. This is a debate that detracts from serious efforts to actually reduce federal spending.”