Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 | 7:14 p.m.
Lawmakers are gearing up for a showdown on spending in the coming weeks and on Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Dean Heller made a hard pledge: He will not be trying to bring federal dollars back to Nevada for special projects next year.
“The earmark process has become a symbol of the glut in our nation’s Capitol,” Heller said in a statement. “Congress must reign in reckless spending. This is why I will not request earmarks for the following fiscal year, and I call on all the members of the Nevada delegation to join me in this effort.”
In his statement, Heller said refraining from earmark requests in fiscal 2010 would be one of the “tough decisions” lawmakers would have to take “to bring fiscal sanity and accountability to Washington.”
But while “earmark” has become something of a dirty word in politics, Nevada voters still seem to appreciate them in practice.
Harry Reid campaigned largely on his ability to bring federal dollars back to the state, and even many reluctant Reid supporters said they voted for him last week because of his proven ability to bring home the bacon.
“As a smaller state, it is not in Nevada’s best interests to reject federal funding altogether,” said Reid spokesman Jon Summers, pointing out that “earmarks” have brought more than $100 million to Nevada in the last year for military projects alone — on top of funds for roads, water projects and veterans’ services.
Heller’s statement isn’t that out of the ordinary for him, or for the House GOP — both have been pushing for a full-out moratorium on pork-barrel projects for a while. But they’re having a bit of trouble drumming up support across the Capitol.
Conservative Republican senators pledged today to push Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to back a moratorium as well, but the leader has balked, calling a bid to eradicate all earmarks complicated and potentially ineffectual, if the end goal is saving money nationwide.
Earlier this week, his new freshman counterpart, Kentucky Sen.-elect Rand Paul, who rode to victory on a wave of Tea Party support that included a strong call against pork-barrel spending, recanted his anti-earmarkism, saying he was “not that crazy” to not fight for Kentucky’s piece of the pie.