Tim Chapman

Conservatives feared that this would again be the case with the military spending bill. In their letter to Frist they made clear that they wouldn’t support the measure unless they were given ironclad assurances that the usual business of larding up the bill would not occur.

Appropriators, according to multiple Senate aides, were apoplectic. The idea that young and less influential Senators would challenge the old guard was blasphemous. But conservatives held their ground.

On Wednesday, DeMint took the floor to publicly object to a motion offered by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to move the bill to a conference. “I have made it clear that this bill, which is a good bill, needs to stay clean of additional appropriations and earmarks if it is to go to conference,” said DeMint. “I have made it clear that all we want is a commitment from the leader and from the appropriations committee that this is what will happen.”

DeMint, who was elected as the next leader of the conservative Senate Steering Committee this week, was unwavering in his insistence that the Congress produce a clean bill. Hutchison, whose Appropriations subcommittee crafted the bill, was beside herself at the objections of the conservatives but she pledged to find a way to get DeMint the assurances he and his allies sought and over the course of the day produced those assurances (though it remains doubtful that any spending bills will pass because there are too few days remaining in the congressional session).

Appropriators, still stewing over the actions of fiscal conservatives, will no doubt lay the blame for their inability to pass this year’s appropriations bills at the feet of DeMint, Coburn and others, but the lesson appears clear: congressional big spenders, because of their shameless addiction to pork projects, could not acquiesce to even the simplest of requests: please don’t add billions of dollars in pork projects to your remaining spending bills.

Because of their willingness to go to the mat for their principles, Senate conservatives were the ones who played Santa Claus this December. And the biggest change of all is certainly that the taxpayers will be the ones receiving the presents, not pork-hungry lawmakers.

One Senate GOP aide offered this amusing note: “Bad news, fellas: the Favor Factory has been closed for the year.

Maybe Santa will bring your projects, but I don’t know how he is going to get an indoor rainforest or a bridge to nowhere down your chimney.”

Tim Chapman

Tim Chapman is the Director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. and a contributing columnist to Townhall.com

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