Waxman Swears Off Earmarks
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is known as a master of orchestrating high-profile investigations, most recently the steroids probe that will bring Roger Clemens to testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday. But now it appears Waxman has earned a new title -- earmark crusader.
In a surprise move, Waxman announced Tuesday that he would not request any earmarks in the upcoming fiscal 2009 appropriations bills. While noting progress by his fellow Democrats on the reform front, Waxman said that "we still have too many questionable projects being funded and the sheer volume of earmark requests imposes an impossible burden on the Appropriations Committee."
With a reliably liberal voting record and a history of backing increased government spending, Waxman seems like an unlikely candidate for anti-earmark poster boy, though his move does dovetail somewhat with his committee's work on government accountability and transparency.
House Republicans have been pushing Democrats to agree to a temporary moratorium on earmarks and the formation of a special committee to study the subject, and have been rebuffed on both fronts. But it's also worth noting that very few Republicans have done what Waxman did Tuesday -- personally pledge not to ask for earmarks, without waiting for the other side to agree to do the same.
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