Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday rejected House Republican calls to adopt an earmark moratorium, saying such a move would result in Congress abdicating its constitutional duties.
“We have done some significant things in reforming earmarks,” Reid told reporters. “The most significant reforms in the history of the country. It’s not as if the Republicans invented all of this. … They’re transparent. They never were. They have to be posted. They never were.”
Reid added that the Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse and that by not having earmarks Congress would be giving the president and his administration the authority to make spending decisions.
“Constitutionally, we have an obligation to have Congressionally directed funding,” Reid said. “It would be a shame if we suddenly decided all the spending directions in this country were going to come from the White House. That would not be good. So as far as I’m concerned, the reforms that we have done are important and good and make the process better. And I’m not for stopping Congressionally directed funding.”
However, Reid left open the possibility that Senate Democrats might follow the lead of House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.), who last week announced a ban on earmarks for for-profit companies. Reid said he would consult with Obey and Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) on whether to adopt the same rule for the Senate.