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Discrepancy Arises on House GOP’s Plans for Earmarks

House Minority Leader John Boehner’s speech Thursday about his longtime personal opposition to earmarks made it no clearer whether House Republicans would end the practice. But House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has interpreted the Ohioan’s statement as an unequivocal call to end earmarks.

Boehner said the GOP would “end earmarking as we know it” if Republicans take the majority in November, and he noted that he has never sought them. But he stopped short of guaranteeing a ban on the practice, and he did not lay out what reforms might be in store. He said the Republican Conference would make a collective decision on whether to continue its one-year moratorium on the practice.

Cantor issued his own news release Thursday, titled “Whip Cantor Echoes Leader Boehner’s Call to End Earmarks.”

“Earmarks are a symbol of a broken Washington and emblematic of the culture of spending that has dominated Washington for far too long and must be reversed,” he said in the statement.

Cantor’s office did not comment on the apparent discrepancy between Boehner’s caveats and Cantor’s statement.

Meanwhile, the House Republicans’ new governing agenda, known as “A Pledge to America,” largely ignored the issue. There are deep divisions over what to do among the party’s rank and file, the vast majority of whom have endorsed earmarking in the past.