Toomey backs move to ban earmarks
Thursday, November 11th, 2010
Sen.-elect Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has pledged to vote for banning all earmarks. Toomey is one of about a dozen Republicans who back Sen. Jim DeMint in support of the ban, which will be decided upon during a closed-door conference session next week.
But the tea-party faction may not have the support of their more traditional GOP colleagues.
Earmarks refer to the common practice of slipping funding requests for home-state projects into legislation. Some call it pork, but others say it helps much-needed projects.
Earmarks can include everything from biomedical research funding, to road projects, to construction of recreation centers. They're often used as leverage by politicians to gain support.
Toomey made ending earmarks a key part of his campaign platform, even showing up to a news conference in downtown Philadelphia with a pig.
But large bipartisan support for the practice continues.
Joe McLaughlin is a professor at Temple University and a former lobbyist in Harrisburg.
"On the whole there is reason to be concerned about the volume and potential for corruption but there are worthy things that have been funded at a lower overall cost had they been part of a larger government program," said McLaughlin.
It's unclear if Senate Republicans will come together on the ban. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell says getting rid of earmarks won't cut spending.