Conservatives react to Boehner’s unwillingness to pledge to ban earmarks

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

House GOP leader John Boehner missed an opportunity while on Fox News Sunday yesterday, several activists involved in the Tea Party movement say, by refusing to pledge that he would ban “earmarks” if Republicans win control of Congress in November.

“Wow, what a missed opportunity,” said David Williams, a vice president at the Center against Government Waste, who just spent several days speaking on the Americans for Prosperity “Spending Revolt” bus tour.

Earmarks, often viewed as symbolic of wasteful federal spending, typically refer to items inserted by members of Congress into bills directing dollars to specific projects back home.

“If the Republicans regain control of the House and go back to their old earmarking ways it could be a VERY short majority for the Republicans,” Williams said in an e-mail. “Earmarks are very symbolic of why people believe that Congress is out of touch and arrogant.  How can Boehner not see that earmarks are a huge part of what they did wrong when they had control?”

Asked by Fox’s Chris Wallace to pledge to end earmarks, Boehner — who has actually never asked for an earmark as a member of Congress — would only say, “It will not be business as usual here in Washington, D.C…. It will not be. It will not be business as usual.” A moratorium currently prohibits earmarks in Congress.

The topic of earmarks arose last week when Republicans released their governing agenda, which has been criticized — especially by those involved in the Tea Party movement — for neglecting to specifically call for an end to earmarks.

Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, an organization heavily involved in the Tea Party movement, is not pleased with Boehner’s refusal to definitively make an earmark ban pledge, but called the GOP agenda a “good step.”

“It’s disappointing, but it shows that appropriators still hold sway in the House conference,” Kibbe said of Boehner’s comments on Fox. “The House Republican Document was a good step, particularly the commitment to repeal and replace ObamaCare, but we are still insisting that candidates sign the Contract From America, including its ban on earmarks.”

The Tea Party-backed “Contract from America” is a ten-point agenda — endorsed by Tea Party activists, Republican officeholders and a handful of congressional candidates — that includes calling for a moratorium on all earmarks until the federal budget is in balance.

Boehner’s office, reached Monday afternoon, declined to comment.