The nonprofit Taxpayers for Common Sense has long cast a wary eye toward Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. According to the fiscally conservative watchdog group, the Kentucky Republican has reaped about $1 billion in earmarks (or pork spending)—mainly for Kentucky—in the three years since public disclosure for earmark requests has been required, writes The Washington Post. Now, McConnell, a former member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, is backing the idea of a moratorium on earmarks amid pressure from tea-party conservatives to show that Republicans can commit to reducing federal spending. And McConnell isn’t the only politician publicly backing the issue.
On the left side of the spectrum, President Barack Obama welcomes the idea, led by GOP Senator Jim DeMint, as does Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado. Udall is so inspired he tweets, “It’s time to reduce gov’t waste. Starting today, I will not request congressional #earmarks and will work to reform the process.” His office elaborates with an official statement (via CW2). “Last year, Congress spent roughly $16 billion on earmarks, according to government watchdogs,” states Udall, who backed 33 earmarks last year totaling more than $41,000. “While that’s a small part of the budget, we’ve become so focused on pet projects that holding government accountable and being good stewards of the public dollar seem to be an afterthought. In fact, lawmakers are so afraid of losing earmarked funding that they’re sometimes pressured into supporting a vicious cycle of increased spending.”