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Taxpayer Group President Warns Reid, Senate Democrats: No More Squealing over Pork-Barrel Spending Reforms
For Immediate Release January 12, 2007
Pete Sepp, (703) 683-5700
(Washington, DC) -- Last night, Senate Democratic leaders suffered a humiliating rebuke after trying to sabotage House-passed safeguards against wasteful budget "earmarks." That's the word from the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), a non-partisan citizen group promising an all-out fight to win the up-or-down vote for earmark reforms sponsored by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and originally proposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
"Nancy Pelosi has pledged to make this ?the most ethical Congress ever,' but it seems her counterparts in the Senate never got the memo," said NTU President John Berthoud. "Harry Reid and Richard Durbin apparently don't understand that ending scandalous behavior in Congress is directly related to ending the scandalous practice of earmarking."
In a stunning parliamentary upset, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) failed to "table" (block consideration of) an amendment to the upper chamber's ethics legislation (S. 1) that would add a much stricter standard for disclosure of special interest earmarks. The DeMint package is identical to what was passed in the House's version of the legislation.
During televised Senate proceedings, Reid and Durbin, shocked by DeMint's move, desperately engaged in pressure tactics to dispose of the amendment. Their motion was defeated, 51-46, with the assistance of 10 no-votes from Democrats.
Although Berthoud was pleased that the Senate voted against tabling DeMint's proposal, he noted that a grassroots campaign to win the final vote on the amendment is already underway. The effort is aimed at solidifying the 10 pro-reform Democratic votes and swinging back to reality the 7 Republicans (Bennett-UT, Bunning-KY, Domenici-NM, Hatch- UT, Lott-MS, Smith-OR, and Voinovich-OH) who supported Reid and Durbin's move to quash the measure.
Reacting to rumors that Reid and Durbin may try to invoke "cloture" on S.1, which would end debate entirely, Berthoud warned that other popular reforms would be swept away too. "Cloture would deprive lawmakers of the chance to consider worthy proposals such as a line-item veto and a ban on pensions for Congressional felons," Berthoud concluded. "Someone should tell Harry Reid that his tired role as chief Senate obstructionist during Republican control is now angering members of his own party, not to mention the American people."
NTU was founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. Note: More information on budget reform and S.1's amendments is available at www.ntu.org.