Earmark War on the Senate Floor

Posted: Oct 18, 2007 5:07 PM
Earmark War on the Senate Floor

Fiscal conservatives won one battle but lost another over wasteful spending on the Senate floor Thursday.

Republican Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.) spearheaded efforts to eliminate two egregious earmarks tucked into the fiscal year 2008 Labor Health and Human Services spending bill.

Coburn zeroed in on a $1 million earmark that had been secured by New York Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer for a Woodstock concert museum. Veteran conservative reporter Bob Novak called it “flower power pork” in a Thursday column.

The Oklahoma Republican, who is an obstetrician, offered an amendment to strike it and reallocate the money to fund healthcare for pregnant women.

Schumer tried to stave off Coburn’s attack on the Senate floor. “I’m proud of the earmarks I’ve put in and I’m proud to defend them,” Schumer bragged. He argued the money would provide employment to poverty-stricken Americans in New York. “They are desperate to score jobs so their children can eat,” Schumer said.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.) responded, “I just don’t think we should have earmarks in the HHS bill to create a jobs program.”

Ultimately, Schumer and Clinton weren’t able to keep the money for their pet project. Coburn’s amendment won 52-42. Five Democrats joined Republicans to kill the Clinton-Schumer project.

Another measure to cut pork, however, was defeated.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) tried to persuade his fellow Senators to remove a project sponsored by New York Rep. Charles Rangel (D.) that would give $2 million in federal money to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Policy, the Rangel Conference Center, and the Charles Rangel Library at the City College of New York.

Freshman Rep. John Campbell (R.-Calif.) has sarcastically called the earmark Rangel’s “Monument to Me.”

Promotional literature describes the project as “kind of like a presidential library, but without the president.”

Senators voted to support Rangel’s earmark 61-34. Thirteen of them were Republicans. Click here for a final vote tally.