Murkowski leads GOP pork addicts ‘going rogue’ in movement to flout earmark ban

Even as Senate Republicans approved a “moratorium” on congressional earmarks, a small but significant contingent of the caucus is openly vowing to flout the new rules.

Led by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the contingent is “going rogue” against the party’s leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who Monday made a high-profile switch to back the earmark ban.

Even with McConnell’s support, proponents of the earmark ban appear to be at a loss as to how it will be enforced against their colleagues who are determined to seek pork-barrel projects.

“I know that it is non-binding and individual senators are going to come to their own conclusions about that,” said Sen. John Thune from South Dakota, a potential presidential candidate in 2012 who promised to abide by the ban himself.

“Ultimately, the ban will be enforced by the voters.  If GOP senators want to violate the ban they do so at their own peril,” said John Hart, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma, one of the Senate’s fiercest earmark foes.

The “non-binding” GOP earmark ban passed “overwhelmingly” by voice vote in a meeting by Republicans late Tuesday, said Ron Johnson, the Senator-elect from Wisconsin.

Hart said Coburn will seek a binding ban on earmarks on the Senate floor “at his earliest opportunity.” But Democrats, who will retain a majority in the Senate in the next Congress, appear likely to kill the measure.

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri is one of two Democrats who oppose earmarks, she said Tuesday.

“Counting the numbers, I would be surprised right now if we got more than two,” McCaskill said.

Her party’s leader in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, fiercely defended earmarks, calling a ban “a tremendous step backwards” that “just gives more power to the executive.”

Meanwhile, the renegade Republican porkers are vowing to violate the earmark ban approved by the caucus.

Besides Murkowski, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi have both indicated that ban or no ban, they’ll seek earmarks.*

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham also said they might use earmarks in “emergency” situations. Sen. Jim DeMint, also of South Carolina and a fierce advocate for the moratorium, affirmed after the vote that the caucus agreed to tolerate the practice when used sparingly under dire conditions.

“I support the moratorium, but if I find a circumstance back home where our economic interests are not served by the Obama administration, then I reserve the right to take care of South Carolina,” Graham said.

Murkowski, who appears to have warded off a tea party-backed challenger in a run-off campaign, is leading the charge.

Tuesday, she offered a novel defense of seeking earmarks for her state, saying that Alaska, a “young” state admitted into the Union in 1959, hasn’t been able to enjoy earmarks for as long as the other states.

“I hope to be able to figure out a path forward so that a young state like Alaska can maintain its [amount of] federal dollars as other states have had in helping build their infrastructure,” she said.

Sen. Bob Bennett, who unlike Murkowski lost his senate seat to a primary challenger from his right, defended her. “She has every right to do what she wants,” Bennet said.

Inhofe said his Republican colleagues won’t mind if he seeks earmarks, despite that the caucus just voted to ban them.

Asked if there would be repercussions for violating the ban, Inhofe said, “No, I don’t think so, I think they understand, these are all decent people. They may be wrong, but they’re decent.”

Asked how the earmark ban would be enforced via email, a spokesman to McConnell did not reply.

Christopher Harrell contributed to this report.

*UPDATE: Originally the article indicated that Missouri Sen.-elect Roy Blunt would seek earmarks, ban or no ban. But Blunt’s office e-mailed TheDC the following statement:

“Mr. Blunt has said repeatedly that he will abide by the moratorium the Senate Republican Conference adopted today.  But he believes that if this debate is about spending, we need to go one further and don’t spend the money.  He will introduce a plan to reduce the budget by the total amount of earmarks in the last budget cycle.  That’s a real way to reduce spending.”

  • PolyIndependent

    To reduce government spending, when are all the republicans going to refuse their GOVERNMENT RUN health care??

    • The_anniebanannie

      Hey stupid!!! ——> http://www.factcheck.org/2009/08/health-care-for-members-of-congress/

      Members of Congress have good health insurance by any standard, but it’s not free and not reserved only for them – and it’s not government insurance. House and Senate members are allowed to purchase private health insurance offered through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which covers more than 8 million other federal employees, retirees and their families.

      It’s not a “single-payer” system where the government acts as the one and only health insurance company. As President Bush’s chief of personnel Kay Coles James said in 2003, while lecturing at the conservative Heritage Foundation, “the FEHB program is not centralized, government-run health care.” It has drawn praise both from conservatives and liberals, including President Obama, who held it up as a model for his own health care proposals.

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  • Vuvuzela

    All we can do is hope and pray that nearly all the military absentees are for the legitimate GOP candidate, selected by the voters in his party’s primary.

    This horrible woman is the Republican (RINO) version of Nancy Pelosi!

    • FreedomRocks76

      Actually, this b!t$h might be even WORSE than Commrade Peloski. Talk about an arrogant, evil creature. Murkowsi is rapidly becoming the #1 reason we must make the RINO extinct.

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  • matedeirdre

    Without earmarks how is Murkowski going to pay back the special interest groups who may help her steal the election from Joe Miller?!!

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  • stogtv

    Why wasn’t she forthright enough to admit her desire to place self interest above the public good before the balloting.

    The woman’s a disgrace but worthy of being part of what the GOP has become. I doubt there’s much hope for the Tea Party movement to cause much change in either party as long as this woman, Rangel and others who obviously don’t give a damn about anyone other than themselves reign.

  • Sonny119

    Lisa Murkowski is about the most vile, repugnant, repulsive, elitist, arrogant, disgustingly narcissistic, self-absorbed, Liberal RINO politician, to ever serve in the U.S. Senate, who’s not even a Republican anymore.!!!
    She has been Fired once already, then threw an elitist, spoiled rotten childish, immature, temper tantrum, telling the People of Alaska, that she, Lisa Murkowski, and the Murkowski Family, owns that U.S. Alaska Senate seat, and that she is Inherently Entitled to that seat for life, and that how dare you little small people of Alaska Fire me.
    That’s exactly what she is saying, and acting like, to the People of Alaska. I am sick to death of Lisa Murkowski, and her elitist arrogant, contemptuous, bitter, sad, and pathetic attitude, period.!!!

    If the people re-elect Murkowski, then good luck, as they will get what they voted for, and will deserve everything she does to Loot and Plunder, the Alaskan State and People.!!!
    Here’s an example of what Lisa Murkowski is doing to America’s National Security. This article, details Sen. Lisa Murkowski actions in her Role as Energy Chairperson in the U.S. Senate, which she recently has blocked Congressional Legislation, because this particular Legislation wasn’t in her name, because of her massive Elitist Ego / Self-Centered mentality, which has denied America, a much needed protection system, against a very serious threat, an EMP attack, which could wipe out America’s Electrical Power Transformer Grids, all across the nation, which would be catastrophic.!!


    Murkowski Blocks Effort to Protect US Power Grid
    Thursday, 14 Oct 2010 06:50 PM

    By: Ken Timmerman

    In a surprising election-year gambit, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has gutted legislation with strong bipartisan support that would protect the U.S. power grid from solar flares and Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) weapons, to benefit a “clean” energy bill backed by Senate Democrats.

    The original bill, known as the GRID Act, authorized the federal government to take emergency measures to protect some 300 giant power transformers around the country. It passed the House of Representatives by a unanimous voice vote in August, an unusual show of bipartisan support in this Congress.

    But when it went to the Senate, the bill was gutted of the measures to protect the power grid from EMP attack by Murkowski and committee chairman Jeff Bingamon, D-N.M., while other portions of the bill were added to her own energy bill, S. 1462, the American Clean Energy Act of 2009.

    “Sen. Murkowski stripped H.R. 5026 of the main elements designed to protect our infrastructure and did not add them to her bill,” said Andrea Lafferty, executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition.

    An aide to Murkowski said that Murkowski voted for stripping out the EMP provisions of the bill on practical, not political, grounds.

    “The bill was going nowhere. The administration opposed it, and favored a government-wide effort, not a piecemeal approach.” He added that blaming Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Energy Committee, for altering legislation being managed by the majority Democrats was “an election-year gambit by far right wing groups. Murkowski did not place a hold on the House bill.”

    The stakes of this election year wrangling could not be higher, said Peter Pry, a former CIA analyst and executive director of the congressionally chartered EMP Commission.

    “Within 12 months of an EMP attack or a massive solar flare, between two-thirds to 90 percent of the U.S. population would perish” from lack of electricity, Pry said, quoting the conclusions from the EMP Commission’s two public reports.

    On Aug. 1, NASA reported that satellites had detected a coronal mass ejection, or CME, “heading toward the Earth’s direction,” Pry said. That same day, the federal government issued a warning that a giant electromagnetic pulse from the solar storm might damage the electric grid of the United States.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated there was a 10 percent probability that the solar storm could cause a severe geomagnetic storm with devastating impact on the national power grid. Luckily, “the Earth dodged a bullet from the sun” that week,” Pry said.

    The EMP Commission made a number of recommendations to protect the power grid, considered by most experts to be the most vulnerable big piece of our national infrastructure to an EMP attack.

    “There are no excuses for the United States to still be vulnerable to EMP,” Pry said. The commission recommended spending between $10 billion to $20 billion over the next five years to protect giant power transformers and transmission lines, which otherwise would simply melt down in the event of an EMP attack or a massive solar flare.

    “Now is the time to act to secure the electric grid, not after a major incident has occurred,” said Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

    Just days after the federal government was warning of a giant solar flare in August, Murkowski intervened in the Senate Energy Committee to strip away the provisions to protect the national power grid from solar flares and EMP attack, Congressional sources told Newsmax. The EMP provisions could be added back in a revised version of the bill in the lame-duck session after the November election, the sources said.

    The last time the Earth was hit by a giant solar flare was known as the “Carrington event,” which caused significant damage to the nation’s nascent telegraph system.

    “The National Academies of Sciences predicted in a 2008 report that a solar geomagnetic storm as severe as the Carrington event that occurred in 1859 could inflict $1 trillion to $2 trillion and take four to 10 years to recover from,” said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., one of the original advocates of establishing the EMP Commission.

    “That compares with the $300 billion impact of Hurricane Katrina,” he added.

    Many scientists are predicting massive solar activity between now and the end of 2012.

    “The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity,” Richard Fisher, head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, told Fox News in June. “At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms.

    In June, National Geographic broadcast a docudrama titled “Electronic Armageddon” that visualized the impact on the U.S. of an EMP attack or a giant solar flare.

    For many years, U.S. intelligence analysts have argued that only a massive Soviet-style weapon of 25 megatons or more could generate the amount of EMP needed to knock out the U.S. power grid.

    But Pry, who was the analyst who originally put forward that view more than 20 years ago when he was at CIA, says that times have changed.

    “Cold War weapons were never designed to target civilian infrastructure,” he said. “Meanwhile, modern electronics are more than a million times more vulnerable to EMP strike than the electronics we had in the 1960s.”

    Added to that, he said, Russia has developed a “super EMP weapon with a low explosive yield – as low as one kiloton – that would produce 200 kilovolts per meter, eight times the gamma radiation of a 25-megaton weapon. The United States doesn’t even have a simulator to measure that magnitude of attack.”

    Such a weapon could be carried in a backpack, or loaded on a freighter and fired from a low-technology missile launcher into the atmosphere over the U.S. heartland. It is also small enough to fit on top the space launch vehicle Iran has successfully tested and launched against the United States, Pry added.

    “Iran could launch a missile with an EMP weapon and remain anonymous,” Pry said. “They could launch a SCUD missile off our shores and we’d never even know we were under attack. There is no forensic evidence you can collect.”

    • The_anniebanannie

      oh sweet Jesus…this woman is nuts.

    • esq


      click here: http://www.votervoice.net/Core.aspx?AID=1150&Screen=alert&IssueId=22654&SessionID=%24AID%3d1150%3aSITEID%3d-1%3aVV_CULTURE%3den-us%3aAPP%3dGAC%24


      By way of background, the U.S. House unanimously passed the GRID Act legislation that would be a huge step toward protecting America’s electric grids on an ‘all hazards’ basis, including from man-made and nuclear EMP. Unfortunately, prior to going on break, it seems Murkowsji ignored the unanimous bipartisan* endorsement of the U.S. House, two Congressionak Commissions and the National Academy of Sciences, and threw out the House’s protection from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) in HR 5026 for her Senate cyber version of the bill (S.1462). BTW – When is the last time you saw the words “unanimous” and “bipartisan” when referring to a bill like this?

      The House’s bill expressly protects the grid from nuclear and other physical attacks and great geomagnetic storms. Murkowski’s Senate committee deleted provisions re: EMP and those protecting the grid’s large transformers and requiring adequate backup inventory.

      The grid is most vulnerable to an EMP attack due to its age, a growing reliance on computer control systems (SCADA), and various methods of attack/damage, including from EMPs generated from hand-held weapons, high-altitude denotation of a nuclear bomb, and the sun.

      Fortunately, there are non-partisan, not-for-profit, grassroots groups like EMPact America trying to raise awareness about EMP, convince our leaders to do what’s right for the American people, and get the country’s electric grids protected against EMP and other hazards.

      Please use EMPact America’s automated e-campaign to contact your Senators now using the following link, and ask them to adopt the House’s HR 5026 protections from EMP in S.1462 (or to adopt a separate stand alone bill that mirrors HR 5026):


      To learn more about EMP, and what you can do about it, please visit http://www.empactamerica.org and http://www.empactradio.com.

      EMPact America is the foremost electromagnetic pulse (EMP) education and advocacy organization in the world. It has an entire website and radio network dedicated to EMP and national security (www.empactamerica.org). If you read nothing else on EMP, at least read the Abstract, Overview, and summary information in the 2008 Congressional EMP Commission Report (http://www.empactamerica.org/featuredreports.php).

      On EMPact America’s website, you can read reliable source materials and watch exclusive videos about nuclear and solar EMP. There’s also a forum with blogs, comments, and discussion on this critical topic.

      Also, check EMPact Radio every Wed. at noon (go to http://www.empactradio.com or http://www.blogtalkradio.com/empact-radio/) for a live broadcast on these issues. Recent guests on EMP include: Lord Kelvin Winner, Dr. William Radasky (who helped the EMP Commission discover and better understand the serious nature solar issues); Bronius Cikotas (father of GWEN); Best Selling Author Dr. William R. Forstchen; Vice Admiral Robert Monroe; Congressman Roscoe Bartlett; former CIA Director Ambassador James Woolsey; former Chairman of National Intelligence Council, Fritz Ermarth; Dr. William Graham (Chair of the US Congressional EMP Commission for eight years and widely considered to be the free world’s foremost expert on electromagnetic pulse – also a member of the Rumsfeld Commission on Space and served as Science Advisor to President Reagan and Chairman of the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament, and Chairman of the SDI Advisory Committee and Deputy Administrator of NASA); and many others.

      Based in NY (USA), EMPact America is a non-partisan, non-profit organization for citizens dedicated to protecting America from a man-made or natural electromagnetic pulse (EMP) catastrophe.

      For more information, visit: http://www.empactamerica.org.