The Senate overwhelmingly rejected a one-year ban on earmarks strongly backed by a small contingent of fiscal hawks, including Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.).
71 senators voted against a measure championed by Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) to amend the 2009 budget to include a year-long moratorium on pork-barrel projects late Thursday evening.
29 senators voted for the amendment.
[See bottom of the story for a complete vote tally]
Although ban did not pass, it did attract an interesting coalition of support. In the run-up to the vote longtime earmarkers and Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D.-Ill.) signed on to become cosponsors of DeMint’s amendment. Two other Democrats crossed party lines to cosponsor the measure: Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and Missouri freshman Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Along with DeMint and McCain, Republicans signing on to the bill included: Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.), Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.), Sen. Bob Corker (R.-Tenn.), Sen. Richard Burr (R.-North Carolina), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C), Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex), Sen. Mel Martinez (R.-Florida), Sen. Mike Enzi (R.-Wyo.), Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla/).
McCain said in a statement directed toward Clinton and Obama before the vote , “I am encouraged by some of my Democratic colleagues’ new-found enthusiasm for suspending this practice for a year. I hope their recent commitments do not wane once they step off the campaign trail.’’
In the fiscal year 2008 budget, Clinton and Obama snagged hundreds of millions worth of earmarks. According to the taxpayer watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste, Obama sponsored or cosponsored $98 million worth of pet projects and Clinton sponsored or secured a whopping $342 million.