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GOP Backs Away From Earmark Moratorium

House Republicans on Thursday nixed the idea of imposing even a short-term moratorium on earmark requests, voting instead to create a commission to study the issue and report its findings in February.

Under a rule proposed by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and newly elected Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Republicans would have been forbidden from submitting earmark requests through Feb. 16.

But appropriators fretted that such a moratorium could cause chaos, worrying that the rule could jeopardize thousands of Republican earmarks included in pending 2009 appropriations bills, and give Democrats an opportunity to embarrass the party by setting an earmark request deadline of Feb. 15 or earlier.

Appropriators succeeded in having the rule amended and nixing the moratorium.

GOP lawmakers also defeated another rule Thursday that would have made the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee an appointed rather than elected position.

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