Congress hopefuls vow to be pork-free

Face earmark battle with senior members

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“Republican Senate candidates from around the nation, from Mark Kirk in Illinois to Marco Rubio in Florida, have campaigned to stop the earmark favor factory and I trust them to keep their word when they get here,” he said. “If Republicans fail to take a stand against earmarks next year, it will send a terrible message to Americans that our party hasn’t learned its lesson.”

Another option would be for Republicans to require more transparency in the process, although Democrats have made huge strides in the past four years by passing rules requiring lawmakers to publish all their special spending requests and to print the earmarks awarded along with each bill’s text. The rules also limit the types of earmark requests allowed.

Democrats have largely watched from the sidelines and have needled Republicans as they struggle with the issue, particularly after House Republicans dropped references to earmarks from their Pledge to America, a lengthy agenda released last month.

“I’m not surprised by that, because they quadrupled earmarks when they were in charge,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. “We have halved earmarks and made them transparent and fully reportable by members when they request them.”

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and a longtime earmark foe, said limiting the practice will not be enough.

“I’m all for transparency, but the reality is, they will always find ways around it. That’s what I’ve found,” he said.

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