WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) shared disappointment after the Senate missed an opportunity to permanently end the practice of earmarking. The senators are fighting to win support for the bipartisan Earmark Elimination Act that would ban earmarks once and for all.
"I am disappointed that our amendment did not receive the necessary 60 votes to pass," Sen. Toomey said, "but I am heartened by the bipartisan support for it. "Earlier today, we achieved a small victory for taxpayers when the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee extended the current earmark moratorium through 2013, and we will continue to fight for a permanent ban that protects taxpayer dollars and maintains an open and transparent process in Congress."
"Earmarking is a flawed arbitrary process that should end," said Sen. McCaskill, a fierce opponent of earmarks and reform advocate. "Our spending decisions must be based on merit, not on who you know and who serves on what committee. I will continue to fight this bad habit and hope we will someday succeed in going beyond a temporary moratorium to a permanent ban."
Sens. Toomey and McCaskill had filed their bipartisan Earmark Elimination Act as an amendment to the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, currently being debated in the Senate. This amendment would permanently ban earmarks from the legislative process.
Sens. Toomey and McCaskill's Earmark Elimination Act is supported by Citizens Against Government Waste, the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and FreedomWorks.
Specifically, the legislation would:
â€¢ Permanently ban all earmarks.
â€¢ Define earmarks as any congressionally directed spending item, limited tax benefit, or limited tariff benefit.
â€¢ Create a point of order against any legislation containing an earmark. The point of order would only apply to the actual earmark, rather than to the entire bill.
â€¢ Require a two-thirds vote to waive the point of order.
Sens. Toomey and McCaskill pointed out that a number of congressional members are clamoring to reinstate the wasteful earmarking process that forced taxpayers to fund such pet projects as the Bridge to Nowhere. According to the Washington Post, lawmakers are also trying to fund special-interest projects by finding loopholes in the current earmark moratorium.