What a surprise. Congressional Democrats call for fiscal reform and changing the culture in Washington, but flip-flop en masse to oppose earmark reform. Twenty Senate Democrats voted for a virtually identical when it was proposed by Tom Daschle. Now that it's offered by a Republican however, they block it without ever having to take a vote on the merits.
Here's the roll call. Forty-seven out of forty-eight voting Democrats voted against cloture. (Remember that when Senate Democrats complain about the pernicious, anti-democratic nature of the filibuster, by the way).
Here's what some Democratic leaders had to say about the proposal when Senator Daschle offered it in 1995:
Sen. Byrd, 3/21/1995
“The Daschle substitute does not result in any shift of power from the legislative branch to the executive. It is clear cut. It gives the President the opportunity to get a vote. So I am 100 percent behind the substitute by Mr. Daschle.”
Sen. Byrd, 3/22/1995
“I have no problem with giving the President another opportunity to select from appropriation bills certain items which he feels, for his reasons, whatever they may be, they may be political or for whatever reasons, I have no problem with his sending them to the two Houses and our giving him a vote.”
Sen. Feinstein, 3/21/1995
“What a line-item veto is all about is deterrence, and that deterrence is aimed at the pork barrel. I sincerely believe that a line-item veto will work.
Sen. Dorgan, 4/25/1996
“I have long believed that giving the President line-item veto authority will be helpful in imposing budget discipline. I think it will be helpful in preventing unsupportable spending projects from being added to spending bills without public notice, debate, or hearings. I have voted for the line-item veto three times in the past three Congresses.”
Sen. Biden, 3/27/96
“Mr. President, I have long supported an experiment with a line-item veto power for the president.”
Sen. Levin, 3/27/96
“That so-called expedited rescission process it seems to me, is constitutional and is something which we can, in good conscience, at least I, in good conscience, support,”
Sen. Feingold, 3/22/95
“The line-item veto is about getting rid of those items after the president has them on his desk. I think this will prove to be a useful tool in eliminating some of things that have happened in Congress that have been held up to public ridicule.”
Sen. Dodd, 3/23/96
“I support the substitute offered by Senator Daschle. I believe it is a reasonable line-item veto alternative. It requires both Houses of Congress to vote on a President’s rescission list and sets up a fast-track procedure to ensure that a vote occurs in a prompt and timely manner.”
How many of these statesmen voted to avoid a vote on the amendment today? All of them. Evan Bayh (and Joe Lieberman - sort of) are the only Democrats who voted in favor of earmark reform.
I guess where you stand depends on where you sit.
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