Md. lawmakers aim bipartisan fire at proposed earmark reform

Ruppersberger, Bartlett oppose changes to this spending measure

March 12, 2010|By Paul West |

Washington — — Election-year plans to reduce the number of congressional earmarks drew criticism from a pair of Maryland congressmen Thursday.

During a private meeting of House Republicans, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Frederick spoke out against a moratorium on requesting money for pet projects in 2011 spending measures. The idea, hatched by Republican leaders to counter a weaker Democratic reform, won approval from the Republican caucus.

"This creates a huge problem," said Bartlett, contending that earmarks are essential to keeping the U.S. militarily competitive with Russia and China. He said the Predator missile, an increasingly valuable weapon in modern warfare, began as an earmarked project.

Democratic Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger of Baltimore County, a member of the House Appropriations committee, complained that Democratic leaders, in doing away with earmarks for corporations earlier in the week, had abdicated Congress' power to spend money.

Senate leaders are resisting the House initiatives, leaving the future of 2011 earmarks up in the air.

Democratic Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin released an initial list of earmark requests that included $6 million for a Rockville company that is developing a type of bandage it hopes to sell to the military.

Cardin noted that corporations receive a relatively small percentage of the money earmarked by lawmakers, but the senator indicated that he needed to know how the House and Senate would resolve differences over the issue before deciding whether to continue requesting the no-bid federal grants to corporations.

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