Earmarks, be gone!

That’s the pledge of two Republican senators, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John McCain of Arizona, who have pledged to force their Senate colleagues to vote on every earmark in the spending bills that come up this year. Earmarks have become a significant issue for the NASA budget, with dozens of small projects inserted by members for their own districts that sap money from other programs. Earmarks in the overall federal budget have nearly quadrupled since 1994, according to a CRS study. McCain and Coburn have put themselves on a collision course with many of their colleagues, particularly in the House. For example, in his Thursday column in the Washington Post, George Will writes a paean about former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who has not been shy about earmarks for his district. Will’s dislike for earmarks seems checked by his admiration for DeLay, particularly when the Congressman responds to “censorious” remarks about highway earmarks by channeling Madge from the old Palmolive ads: “You just drove out on one.”

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