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House GOP lives up to no-earmark pledge

In March, I reported here on the decision by House Republican Leaders to demonstrate that they have given up their big-spending ways by enacting a voluntary, unilateral ban on all earmarks for the remainder of the 111th Congress.

Well, four months later the GOP is largely keeping its word.

On Thursday, the House passed the 2011 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. True to its name, the THUD act has traditionally been one of the most heavily earmarked bills in Congress, and this one was no exception, containing 459 individual earmarks. But there was one small difference from years past: Of those 459 earmarks, all but six were requested by Democrats. The House also passed the 2011 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill Thursday, which contains 523 earmarks, all but one requested by Democrats. So in total, the House approved some 982 earmarks this week, only seven of which were requested by Republicans.

The Republican earmarkers who violated the ban are Reps. Henry Brown (S.C.), Ron Paul (Texas), Don Young (Ak.), and Jospeh Cao (La.). But they are not entirely alone. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, other Republican members have tried to circumvent the ban by passing off earmark requests to their GOP counterparts in the Senate, who have not enacted a similar ban.

This week's votes represent real progress. With their new-found earmark discipline, House Republican leaders are showing the country that they have learned from their spending mistakes and are ready to be trusted with power again. But until the Senate GOP makes the same commitment as the House, unrepentant pork producers on Capitol Hill will keep finding ways to get their special interest projects approved.

By Marc Thiessen  | July 30, 2010; 12:58 PM ET
Categories:  Thiessen  | Tags:  Marc Thiessen  
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"... four months later the GOP is largely keeping its word."

The operative word here being "largely." Like "mostly" being a virgin.

Posted by: newsraptor | July 30, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

After reading the article, I don't understand the headline.

House GOP lives up to no-earmark pledge

First, we're talking about a 4 month period not the entire year (it's a mid-term gimmick)

Second, there were violations of this pledge:

"The Republican earmarkers who violated the ban are Reps. Henry Brown (S.C.), Ron Paul (Texas), Don Young (Ak.), and Jospeh Cao (La.)."

Third, they're playing games:

"According to Citizens Against Government Waste, other Republican members have tried to circumvent the ban by passing off earmark requests to their GOP counterparts in the Senate, who have not enacted a similar ban."

Please explain the accuracy of the headline.

Posted by: FauxReal | July 30, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Reducing earmarks is window dressing on the deficit debate. If Republicans were serious about the debt there would be an adult discussion around revenue (tax increases) and cuts, instead there is an effort to have an appearance of fiscal discipline so brain dead commentators can repeat press release factoids that sound good in the lead up to the midterms. 4 month of almost no earmarks (which probably less than a $1 billion) vs 6 years of turning a $200 Billion surplus into massive deficits.

Posted by: ChicagoIndependant | July 30, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

What I find interesting about this article is the context. You frequently see numbers tossed around in these opinion pages with little or no context. So, I'll explain the relevance. First, if the Republicans in the House are only being 'mostly' virginal, I don't need to explain the word that describes the Democrats. Your analogy. Yes, it's a 4-month period leading up to an historic election. As the saying goes, 'all politics is local' and the pledge violators want to get reelected. Riding herd on 178 Republican members and only getting 4 violators (publicly) is a pretty remarkable political accomplishment.

Posted by: polijunkie100 | July 30, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Watch out for another Republican Shoe Dropping...

They have huge ones ready to fall.

And they cannot help it.

Thiessen serve your country

Join the ARMY

Posted by: vettessman | July 30, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

453 of 459 belonged to Democrats? I often wonder why voters so foolishly vote corrupt men and women into office. While we ignorantly defend our respective parties actions, those representing us in Washington laugh behind closed doors as they proceed to mortgage our children's futures. Oh, the bill for that pork will be paid. It will be paid by the naive sheep who put their corrupt "representatives" in office in the first place. So while those who blindly defend their party's actions in Washington behave like mindless sheep, open you wallets and 401K plans. For it is you who just signed the IOU for that pork and it is you who will pay. You can damn well bet on it.

Posted by: donchew1 | July 30, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

This article is surely a joke. The real reason is that there have been no Republican earmarks is that they haven't voted to pass anything! If you want to be the Party of No, you can sometimes block the government, but you really don't get the chance to help your constituents either.

Posted by: taxpayer2 | July 31, 2010 3:57 AM | Report abuse

They haven't violated the "no earmarks bans" - except for a few and those who tried to circumvent. The point of this article is what - they lied but you're not calling them out.

Posted by: rlj1 | July 31, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"House GOP lives up to no-earmark pledge...Well, four months later the GOP is largely keeping its word...other Republican members have tried to circumvent the ban by passing off earmark requests to their GOP counterparts in the Senate, who have not enacted a similar ban."

So! ... Does not make up for the last 30 years .... especially during the days of Gingrich and Tom Delay.

Posted by: knjincvc | July 31, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

It's not perfect, but it is a start. Now, if our famously partisan President could bring himself to discipline his party, then we might actually start having legislators unable to corrupt themselves and bankrupt us.

Posted by: sailhardy | July 31, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

This 'opinion' piece reads like a misleading ad for the GOP. For example, Grassley's earmarks are UP from 2008 and like Ron Paul and the majority of other Republicans his earmarks are insterted in bills he voted AGAINST.

"Riding herd on 178 Republican members and only getting 4 violators (publicly) is a pretty remarkable political accomplishment." Baloney on both counts.

Posted by: backwoods_intellect | July 31, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Why does torture loving goon, Marc Thiessen, have a platform at the Washington Post?

Posted by: caphilldcne | July 31, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The bigger problem is they continue with their No solutions pledge.

Posted by: notthatdum | July 31, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

The American people, by and large, have been schooled to believe that "earmark" is a bad thing... always. But, funding a NASA project in Houston is an earmark. The Gulf Oil Spill will generate many earmarks before its corrected. Virtually anything Congress funds that is not engineered to hit all states is technically an earmark.

Like pages in a bill, earmarks are an argument without meaning or merit. What are the earmarks submitted? Reserved parking spaces, or bridges? Environmental cleanup or memorials? What is the content, please, not the count?

Any work funded by government will be done in somebody's district, and therefore, an earmark.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | July 31, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

So tell me, Thiessie, you feel good about what you're doing? proud of your job? feel like it's something you can hold up as a model for your kids of a hard-working, productive citizen?

If you answered "yes," you're a moron. If "no," a hypocrite.

Posted by: meuphys_rasbene | July 31, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

So the eight years of Cheney/Bush rule didn't bother their consciences about spending or what Cheney was doing with America's treasury. None of the Repugs ever challenged one criminal activity perpetrated by Cheney, nor did they open their mealymouths about Bush circumventing the Constitution to allow torture, illegal war, taping our telephones and emails, etc etc etc.
They never saw one dollar they could put toward Social Security or Medicare or roads and bridges or education or illegal immigrants. And now a slacker like Theissen is trying to make his friends sound like they are some kind of patriots when we all know they are nothing short of criminals.
How could Gingrich be convicted of money laundering, Delay being indicted for money laundering, Cheney giving his own company noncompetitive contracts for EVERYTHING in Iraq and Theisson never noticed, nor did he yell collusion. For really, didn't Cheney profit indecently from the monumental growth of all of that Halliburton stock he holds?
The repugs in Congress are nothing more then an uneducated group of schoolboys and silly girls who think of governing as a playground sport. They have demonstrated that they are the very lousiest of citizens and their teabagging hyenas fit right in. They couldn't have picked a more symbolic leader than the hillbilly moneygrabbing dimbulb from Wasilla. They really deserve her.

Posted by: papafritz571 | August 1, 2010 2:58 AM | Report abuse

1. How many GOP representatives voted against this legislation? If you're really against earmarks, you'd vote against this (and any) bill that contained them. Mr. Thiessen neglects to mention this.

2. Mr. Thiessen also neglects to mention that these types of legislation set a total amount for earmarks. Any "unclaimed" amount is not refunded or deleted. When the bill is sent to President for his signature, the president gets to determine how to spend the "unclaimed" amount.

3. Those GOP representatives who did not include earmarks will now have to expain to their consituents why they have to now pay for other districts' earmarks while not receiving any themselves. Unless, as indicated by the article, their senators earmarks them.

I'd be happy if the legislature did away with the practice of "earmarks". But until they do, I don't blame any representative for using them. And I much prefer that congress determine how money is to be spent rather than the Executive.

Posted by: MDLaxer | August 4, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

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