WASHINGTON – Confronting the nation’s mounting deficit, President Barack Obama is urging Congress to limit spending on pet home-state projects, while Republicans are challenging him to support an outright ban.
In his weekly radio and online address Saturday, Obama said that with the economy still struggling to recover from the recession, the U.S. cannot afford unnecessary spending on so-called earmarks, items lawmakers slip into spending bills without a full examination or debate.
“When it comes to signaling our commitment to fiscal responsibility, addressing them would have an important impact,” Obama said.
However, Obama stopped short of calling for a full ban on earmarks, saying some of them “support worthy projects in our local communities.” While he said steps must be taken to limit wasteful spending, he offered no specific proposals for how to do so.
The top Republicans in the House, Reps. John Boehner of Ohio and Eric Cantor of Virginia, issued a joint statement welcoming Obama’s remarks on earmark limits. But they also raised the stakes, challenging Obama to immediately agree to veto any spending bills that include earmarks.
Boehner and Cantor said House Republicans will vote this week on a measure that would ban earmarks when the new session of Congress starts.