GOP Rep. Foxx: Obama Broke Promise on Earmarks

By Lindsey Ellerson

Mar 11, 2009 4:05pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein and David Chalian report: On “Politics Live” today, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., charged that President Obama broke a campaign promise by signing a $410 billion spending bill that includes earmarks.

Foxx, who is part of a group of Republican House members who have vowed to forswear earmarks until reforms are in place, said Obama’s campaign rhetoric demanded a veto.

“The president made a promise that he would veto any bill that had earmarks in it. This one has 8,500,” she said. “The American people, even those of us who didn’t support him, expected change and expected him to do what he said he would do.  He promised, and you know, most of us think that when another person promises something, he or she will deliver. He has not delivered.”

We pressed back on this, since it’s a standard we didn’t recall candidate Obama setting for himself. We also pointed out that Foxx herself has in the past requested and received earmarks.

Responded Foxx: “I believe there are quotes from the president where he said absolutely, he would veto bills that had earmarks in them — that had any earmarks at all. And I think some of us could provide those for you, but you’re right, some of us have had earmarks in the past, but we know the system is broken, and we need to fix the system. Let’s do it all out in the open. Let’s be transparent. Let’s have people own up to their earmarks, and until the system is fixed, I, and I think 46 of my colleagues have sworn off of earmarks because we don’t want to participate in a broken system.”

After the show, we followed up with Foxx’s office. They didn’t produce the promised quote, but cited this statement Obama made on the campaign trail: “We need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure we’re not spending money unwisely.”

Aaron Groen, a spokesman for Foxx, explained: “So I guess it’s a matter of semantics.  Unless the President believes that the omnibus is all ‘wise’ spending, it seems that a veto is in order — since he currently doesn’t have the power to alter the text of legislation after it has passed Congress. But by not vetoing a bill that is widely viewed as stuffed full of wasteful pork, he’s giving his stamp of approval (even if behind closed doors) to the very thing he campaigned against: spending taxpayers’ money unwisely.  Using the argument that ‘this is last year’s business’ sounds a bit like a cop out.”

Apart from Mr. Obama’s pledges during the campaign, Rep. Foxx also charged the president with being disingenuous that this bill was essential to continue to fund the government.

"You know, the president also I think is not completely honest. We have a continuing resolution. We could have continued to fund the federal government on a continuing resolution.  We could have funded everything else without those earmarks. So blaming it on the Congress and saying it’s an imperfect bill, but ‘Oh, I have to do it,’ he’s absolving himself of responsibility," she said.

Aside from the earmarks, Foxx also expressed concern about how much the bill adds to the national debt and questioned whether all of the projects funded have a federal nexus or if state and local governments should be picking up some of the tab.

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