Earmark Hypocrisy? GOP Leaders Grilled on Spending
Jon Karl presses Sens. John Cornyn and John Thune to explain GOP double-talk.
WASHINGTON, Dec.15, 2010 -- Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and John Thune, R-S.D., held a press conference today to rip the Democrats' new 1,924-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus bill for containing $8 billion worth of earmarks.
"The bill is loaded up with pork projects, and it shouldn't get a vote," Thune said.
"I think this is an outrage," railed Cornyn.
But Thune and Cornyn have tens of millions of dollars for their own earmarks in the bill, including Thune's request for $8 million for B-1 bomber fleet maintenance and Cornyn's request for $1.6 million for the Texas Army National Guard Counter-Drug Task Force.
"How do you have any credibility on this?," asked ABC's Jon Karl.
"Because we're going to vote against the bill," said Cornyn. "This is the wrong way to do business."
"Senator, were you wrong when you put these earmarks in before," Karl asked.
"Karl, this is not just about earmarks," said Cornyn. "Earmarks are a symptom of wasteful Washington spending that the American people have said they want reformed. We agree with them, and that's why we will vote against this bill. But you're missing the story if you think it's just about earmarks. This is about a flawed process of sweetheart deals cut behind closed doors, and a big bill, a spending bill, dropped on the American people and on us on December the 14th, without adequate time to amend it and debate it and to reveal to the American people what is in it so they can cast their judgment."
"So I think -- I think that's to me the context. And we've said very clearly -- we voted for an earmark moratorium. We will abide by that, and we will reject any earmarks requested by us or anyone else, because that's what the American people told us they want."
"Is that an acknowledgement that what you did was wrong, to put the earmarks in in the first place?" Karl said.
"I think you've asked the question about five times, and I've tried to answer it to the best of my ability," Cornyn responded.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, another Republican, anti-pork crusader, has said he would file an amendment to eliminate all earmark funding in the bill. For around 6,488 earmarks, he said, that comes to about $8.3 billion.