Yesterday morning the senate defeated a proposal to ban congressional earmark spending. Fifty-six senators voted against the legislation, which was offered as an amendment to a food-safety bill.
Senate Republicans have already passed a voluntary ban on earmarks in their caucus, but several GOP senators have objected to it. Democrats have so far declined to ban earmarks from their members.
The legislation would have established an earmark moratorium for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, and also would have covered the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. Congress has yet to pass an appropriations bill for the current fiscal year, and in the lame-duck session lawmakers are likely to approve either an omnibus spending bill or a continuing resolution to keep the government operating.
In speeches on Monday, Coburn said the ban was the only way to rein in out-of-control spending. He did not speak on Tuesday morning, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who supports the ban, alluded to the issue in remarks about the current debate over tax cuts.
"Republicans have heard the voters loud and clear," McConnell said. "They want us to focus on preventing a tax hike on every taxpayer, on reining in Washington spending and on making it easier for employers to start hiring again."