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Vitter Stands By His $249 Million In Earmarks While Complaining That The Omnibus Bill Is ‘Bloated’

By Matt Corley  

"Vitter Stands By His $249 Million In Earmarks While Complaining That The Omnibus Bill Is ‘Bloated’"

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vitpic.jpgRepublicans like Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have been attacking the $410 billion omnibus spending bill, claiming that it has too much spending and too many earmarks. One of the loudest voices calling for the bill’s defeat has been Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), despite his earmarks worth $249 million for 142 projects.

In an interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio show today, Vitter defended himself against charges that his position is hypocritical. “I don’t think it’s wrong to advocate for specific priorities in your state if it doesn’t change your opinion about an overall bill, which I think in this case is way too bloated,” said Vitter.

Pressed by Ingraham about whether it was “worth it to put these earmarks in,” Vitter said that “the important bottom line” was that he would vote against “a bloated bill, $410 billion”:

VITTER: Laura, I understand your argument. I think the important bottom line is when the vote comes, does David Vitter or Murkowski or Bond or anyone else vote for a bloated bill, $410 billion in this case. I can tell you what my answer is going to be. Ever since I’ve known the size and scope of this bill, I’ve said that’s way out of line. It’s 8 percent increase in these areas of the federal government, which is the most since Jimmy Carter.

Listen here:

Vitter continually said that the bill is too “bloated,” but he never suggested that he would be willing to do his part to slim it down by cutting his own earmarks. Considering that the bill is expected to pass, Vitter appears ready to take credit for the earmarked projects after voting against the bill.

Vitter claimed that “ever since” he learned the bill’s price tag, he has said that it was “way out of line.” This claim, however, is questionable. The House passed the $410 billion omnibus on Feb. 25, but as recently as March 1st he was telling his constituents that he was undecided about how he would vote on it.

Transcript:

INGRAHAM: David Vitter is responsible for an earmark that involves termite research in Louisiana. And the senator from Louisiana, my friend, is with us now. Late. Did I say you were late senator?

VITTER: Late? What am I 30 seconds late? I apologize.

[...]

INGRAHAM: What’s going on with this termite research? How essential is that to the future of the country?

VITTER: Well, it’s important in Louisiana. I don’t know if you know about termites, but in terms of this overall spending bill, I think that we need to look at the overall number. $410 billion, almost another half a trillion dollars and defeat the bill. And I’m working very actively to convince the few of my Republican colleagues who may be leaning the other way to say, “please don’t help pass this bill.” This would be in my opinion even worse than when three Republicans passed the stimulus because here we’re even going to get some Democratic votes against this omnibus bill, so we can’t have Republicans passing it.

INGRAHAM: That’s a lot of termites though, 6.6 million. I mean, that’s a lot. I’ve had termite problems, they are pesky, but at this point in the economy. Now, here’s my point to you, and I understand that some of these projects are more worthy than others and, but when we’re trying to argue against Democrats who are in this spend-o-rama mindset constantly, how do you have credibility on this senator, to the extent that you want it, when Republican after Republican, including yourself, is slotting these earmarks into these bills that apparently you’re going to vote against?

VITTER: Well, Laura, I’ll be honest with you. I think the test is what you think about the overall bill and if you think for or against. Now what you’re talking about is a big problem if it essentially buys your vote. If it essentially greases the skids to pass a bad bill and clearly in some cases it does that and clearly that’s what the growth of earmarks in the last 15 years in particular has been about. If it doesn’t do that, certainly not in my case, I don’t think it’s wrong to advocate for specific priorities in your state if it doesn’t change your opinion about an overall bill, which I think in this case is way too bloated. I mean it’s 8 percent increase in these parts of the federal budget, which is the highest increase since the Carter administration.

INGRAHAM: Yeah, I’m not trying to beat a dead termite here, but the point is that Republicans have a principled argument to make and while I guess I understand what you’re saying about this — and you have done more to illuminate the outrages in this bill than pretty much anyone out there other than McCain and a few others — I just think it’s not worth it. I don’t even think it’s worth it to put these earmarks in senator. I don’t think its worth it for what it does to your credibility on fiscal matters. I just think it gives an easy club to Emanuel and Axelrod and company to say, “oh you know, these Republicans, they’re good at saying, they’re good at blockading measures, but look, when push came to shove David Vitter and Murkowski and Cochran and Bond and all these Republicans had their little pet projects in there as well.” That’s what they’re going to say. You know that’s what they’re going to say.

VITTER: Laura, I understand your argument. I think the important bottom line is when the vote comes, does David Vitter or Murkowski or Bond or anyone else vote for a bloated bill, $410 billion in this case. I can tell you what my answer is going to be. Ever since I’ve known the size and scope of this bill, I’ve said that’s way out of line. It’s 8 percent increase in these areas of the federal government, which is the most since Jimmy Carter.

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