An AP article reported that Republicans criticized the omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress for containing “7,991 earmarks” but did not note that roughly 40 percent of those earmarks were reportedly requested by congressional Republicans, or that one of the two specific earmarks mentioned in the article was sponsored by Republicans.
In a March 11 Associated Press article about the omnibus appropriations bill that “President Barack Obama plans to sign ... to keep the federal government running,” reporter Philip Elliott wrote that Obama “remains 'troubled' by the so-called earmarks in the bill that Republicans and moderate Democrats have assailed as unworthy pork-barrel spending.” Elliott further reported, “During his presidential campaign, Obama promised to force Congress to curb its pork-barrel-spending ways. Yet the bill sent from the Democratic-controlled Congress to the White House on Tuesday contained 7,991 earmarks totaling $5.5 billion, according to calculations by the Republican staff of the House Appropriations Committee.” Yet in reporting that Republicans criticized the bill for containing “7,991 earmarks,” Elliott did not note that roughly 40 percent of those earmarks were reportedly requested by congressional Republicans or that an analysis by independent budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense reportedly found that six Republican senators are among the top 10 sponsors of earmarks in the bill. Indeed, one of the two specific earmarks Elliott mentioned in the article -- "$485,000 for a boarding school for at-risk native students in western Alaska" -- was sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK), a fact not mentioned in the article.
In addition, Elliott ignored that nine Republicans, including seven who sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee, voted against an amendment by Sen. John McCain that would have stripped earmarks out of the bill.
As Media Matters for America has documented, on February 26, the AP similarly reported that “Republicans assailed” the omnibus bill as “too costly” and quoted Republicans criticizing the bill for containing earmarks without noting that many of the earmarks were included at the request of Republicans. Similarly, on March 4, the AP reported that “Republicans in Congress have called on Obama to veto a pending $410 billion spending bill because it includes more than 8,000 earmarks” without noting that Republicans sponsored many of those earmarks.
From the March 11 AP article:
President Barack Obama plans to sign a massive spending bill to keep the federal government running, even though it is stashed with the very kinds of pet projects that the campaigning Obama promised to resist.
Obama could sign the $410 billion spending package as early as Wednesday, although he remains “troubled” by the so-called earmarks in the bill that Republicans and moderate Democrats have assailed as unworthy pork-barrel spending. The president planned to use the signing ceremony to announce earmark reforms.
During his presidential campaign, Obama promised to force Congress to curb its pork-barrel-spending ways. Yet the bill sent from the Democratic-controlled Congress to the White House on Tuesday contained 7,991 earmarks totaling $5.5 billion, according to calculations by the Republican staff of the House Appropriations Committee.
While the White House would say only that Obama would announce new rules on earmarks on Wednesday, it was clear he wanted to rein in spending, particularly on the pet projects lawmakers inserted into the spending bill.
The 1,132-page bill has an extraordinary reach, wrapping together nine spending bills to fund the annual operating budgets of every Cabinet department except Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs. Among the many earmarks are $485,000 for a boarding school for at-risk native students in western Alaska and $1.2 million for Helen Keller International so the nonprofit can provide eyeglasses to students with poor vision.
Most of the government has been running on a stopgap funding bill set to expire at midnight Wednesday. Refusing to sign the newly completed spending bill would force Congress to pass another bill to keep the lights on come Thursday or else shut down the massive federal government. That is an unlikely possibility for a president who has spent just seven weeks in office.