The Washington Times - February 9, 2012, 03:18PM

Seeking to find a conservative angle to take on surging Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney on Thursday repeated his call for Congress to permanently end pork-barrel spending through earmarks.

“Passing a permanent ban on earmarks is an important step toward securing our future and restoring fiscal sanity in Washington,” Mr. Romney said.


The issue is percolating on Capitol Hill right now. Congress is acting under a temporary halt right now, but some Republicans and a few Democrats are trying to push through a permanent ban.

Such an amendment failed last week in the Senate, garnering just just 40 votes, or well-shy of the 60 needed to pass major changes in the chamber.

Mr. Romney argues that earmarks are a symbol of Washington spending, and he ties that practice to Mr. Santorum and Newt Gingrich — the latter of whom oversaw an expansion of the process when Republicans took control of Congress in 1995.

Mr. Santorum, who served two terms in the Senate, was a defender of earmarks during his time in Congress. But he says the process was abused and he now supports a moratorium.

He also says Massachusetts regularly requested earmarks during Mr. Romney’s term as governor.