President Barack Obama is set to sign a $410 billion spending bill with some 9,000 earmarks — a practice he repeatedly criticized on the campaign trail last year.
Dismissing the congressional pork as “last year’s business,’’ White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said Sunday that the president wasn’t happy with the earmarks. But, Emanuel said, Obama would nevertheless sign the bill.
Republicans criticized the increased spending and the abundance of earmarks, which account for $3.8 billion of the omnibus.
Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., speaking on ABC's "This Week," said the "fact that there are 9,000 earmarks in this bill and the fact that the vetting process just doesn't take place the way it should — we ought to stand up and draw the line right now and stop the waste."
A practice criticized by both presidential candidates last year, earmarking involves individual lawmakers tacking home-state projects onto enormous spending bills. Funds are then diverted — with little oversight — to projects ranging from roadwork to Mafia museums.
The number of earmarks has risen dramatically in the last few years, drawing criticism from those who say the provisions are wasteful and divert money from more important projects.
The House approved the $410 billion spending bill last week to fund government operations through fiscal 2009, which ends in October. The legislation, which would increase spending by nearly 9 percent over the previous fiscal year, contains huge increases for health care, education and alternative energy.
The Senate is expected to approve the legislation this week.
Saying it would raise taxes during a recession, unfairly redistribute wealth and add greatly to the deficit, Republicans also took aim at President Barack Obama's $3.6-trillion budget on Sunday.
Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the second-ranking Senate Republican, told "Fox News Sunday" that the fiscal year 2010 budget is "terrifying" in its policy proposals and "mind-boggling in the numbers." Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, called the budget the biggest change in the relationship between the government and the economy since the New Deal.
"It's almost as if we are relocating the headquarters of the economy . . . to Washington, D.C.," Mr. Ryan said.
Neither Republican leader expressed confidence, however, that the GOP could block Mr. Obama's budget from passing Congress. "You can't stop this in the House," Mr. Ryan said, and "it's going to be very difficult to stop in the Senate."
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