As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell requested and received millions of dollars in earmarks for this year’s omnibus spending bill, but has now denounced the measure and plans to vote against it. Overall, Republican Senators have gotten nearly $2 billion in earmarks into the omnibus, and yet because of concerns over “wasteful spending,” they are threatening to block the entire bill — which contains not only funding for their own projects, but the money the federal government needs to operate past this weekend.
Yesterday, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and John Thune (R-SD) denounced earmarks and the omnibus bill during a press conference, despite requesting hundreds of millions of dollars of earmarks between them. “I support those projects, but I don’t support this bill,” reasoned Thune. Cornyn defended himself in a “heated exchange” with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl:
Today, the Washington Post reports that two of the most prolific earmarkers in Congress — “unabashed spending barons” Republican Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran of Mississippi — are also planning to vote against the omnibus, despite being responsible for 405 earmarks costing over $865 million.
Sens. McConnell, Wicker, Cochran, Cornyn and Thune are far from the only earmark hypocrites, however. A large number of Republicans requested substantial earmarks for the 2011 omnibus, despite a history of demagoguing the earmark process, and also plan to vote against a bill that included many of their requests. An examination of Taxpayers for Common Sense’s database of earmark requests for this year’s omnibus and their database of who was awarded earmarks last year, along with Sen. Tom Coburn’s working database of the earmarks that actually made it into this year’s omnibus, reveal quite a bit of Republican hypocrisy:
— Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) said on Fox News’ “Happening Now” this morning that he would vote against the omnibus bill. He requested 291 earmarks totaling over $770.5 million, and succeeded in getting 86 earmarks into the omnibus.
— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is opposing the omnibus because it’s “full of unnecessary spending which grows the federal government.” He requested 116 earmarks costing $326.8 million, and the omnibus contains one of these for $379,000.
— Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R-TX) office said she will vote against the omnibus, which she tried to insert 119 earmarks into, at a cost of $770.9 million. She has $140 million earmarked in the bill.
— Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) will also oppose the omnibus, because it “simply spends too much.” Chambliss requested 122 earmarks totaling $492 million. He achieved $56 million in earmarks in the omnibus.
— Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) blasted the “massive, 2,000 page spending bill” in a statement. Burr tried for 82 earmarks, totaling $287.1 million, and received most of them.
— Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) “has been railing against the spending in that massive bill that could come to a vote before the lame duck session.” He requested 32 earmarks this year, totaling $115.8 million, and got nearly all of them — almost $100 million — into the omnibus.
— Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) tweeted today that “Defending the #earmark establishment is not leadership. Defending business-as-usual in Washington isn’t either. Leaders lead by example.” Rehberg is a proud member of the “earmark establishment” — last year he was the fifth-largest earmarker in the House, with 89 earmarks in the 2010 omnibus totaling $103.5 million.
— Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) said on Fox Business Channel this morning that “It’s a week before Christmas, and unfortunately my Democratic colleagues like to play Santa Claus to the tune of $8 billion in new earmarks.” Lee was in a much more festive mood last year, with 36 earmarks totaling over $33.3 million in the 2010 omnibus.
— Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) tweeted today that “A HUGE spending bill is making its way through Congress. $1.1 trillion and 6,000 earmarks. We must stop it. I encourage the President to veto.” Last year, however, Wilson got 15 earmarks costing over $23.3 million in the 2010 omnibus.
It is the height of hypocrisy for these Republicans — all of whom have a long history of earmarking, and in most cases requested and received earmarks in this very bill — to suddenly oppose it because of a newly found opposition to “wasteful” spending.