After bringing $113 million to Kentucky last year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell now says he opposes earmarks.

“What I’ve concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Nearly every day that the Senate’s been in session for the past two years, I have come down to this spot and said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.”

In 2008, McConnell campaigned on his ability to bring earmark funds for his home state. Here are a few McConnell requested in 2008:

  • $20 million for the Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant
  • $3.6 million for the Kentucky National Guard Counterdrug Program
  • $6 million for a Large Area Monitoring Network (LAMNET)
  • $1.6 million for the Military Fuels Research Program
  • $2.8 million for Online Medical Training for Military Personnel

But McConnell says he doesn’t want to be labeled a hypocrite.

“Make no mistake. I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them,” McConnell said. “But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.”

McConnell’s colleague Tom Coburn (R-OK) says there are other ways to fund earmarked projects.

“My greatest criticism for those who want to earmark is that they are basically lazy,” Coburn said.

These senators, Coburn said, incorrectly believe earmarking “is the only way they can make sure funds go in the right direction. They really do not want to do the hard work of passing a $4 trillion budget.”

 

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