WASHINGTON (The Blaze/AP) — The Senate has rejected a GOP bid to ban the practice of larding spending bills with earmarks — those pet projects that lawmakers love to send home to their states.
Democrats and a handful of Republicans combined to defeat the effort, which would have effectively forbidden the Senate from considering legislation containing earmarks like road and bridge projects, community development funding, grants to local police departments and special-interest tax breaks.
Earlier this month, Republicans bowed to tea party activists and passed a party resolution declaring GOP senators would give up earmarks. House Republicans have also given up the practice, but most Democrats say the earmarks are a legitimate way to direct taxpayer money to their constituents.
The legislation would have established an earmark moratorium for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, and also would have covered the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1, The Hill reports.
"I believe I have an important responsibility to the state of Illinois and the people I represent to direct federal dollars into projects critically important for our state and our future," Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) said.
The eight GOP senators who voted to preserve earmark spending include: Thad Cochran (Miss.), Susan Collins (Maine), James Inhofe (Okla.), Dick Lugar (Ind.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Richard Shelby (Ala.), retiring Sen. George Voinovich (Ohio) and defeated Sen. Bob Bennett (Utah) also voted against it.
Six Democrats voted for the earmark moratorium, including: Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, as well as retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.) and defeated Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.).