Obama & Earmarks: One Year Ago This Week

Mar 11, 2009 2:01pm

Then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., one year ago this week, swooped in from the campaign trail to — along with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — vote for an amendment to impose a one-year moratorium on earmarks for fiscal year 2009.

All three then-presidential candidates voted for the amendment,offered by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC.

It failed: 71 NAYs, 29 YEAs.

Candidate Obama said then "we can no longer accept a process that doles out earmarks based on a member of Congress’ seniority, rather than the merit of the project. We can no longer accept an earmarks process that has become so complicated to navigate that a municipality or non-profit group has to hire high-priced D.C. lobbyists to do it. And we can no longer accept an earmarks process in which many of the projects being funded fail to address the real needs of our country."

Today, of course, President Obama will sign into law more than 8,000 earmarks for FY 2009, part of the $410 billion omnibus spending bill.

But he pledged to work with Congress to reform the earmark process:

* requiring Members of Congress to post earmark requests on their websites and subject them to hearings;

* subjecting earmarks for for-profit companies to a competitive bidding process; and

* pledging to remove future earmarks without any legitimate public purpose.

More on this issue tonight on World News with Charles Gibson.

– Jake Tapper and Yunji de Nies

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