President Obama is vowing to veto any bill with earmarks in the State of the Union speech to be delivered at 9:00pm Tuesday, according to his prepared remarks.
“Both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it,” the speech says.
Republicans have agreed to ban congressional earmarks, which direct federal funds to specific projects like bridges and highways, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blasted Obama earlier today on the issue.
“I think it’s the wrong thing to do. I don’t think it’s helpful. It’s a lot of pretty talk, but it only gives the president more power. He’s got enough power already,” said Reid about an earmark ban.
Critics charge earmarks form a “gateway drug” for lawmakers to spend more and more taxpayer dollars and are used as bargaining chips to convince officials to vote for measures they otherwise wouldn’t.
Defenders note the Constitution gives Congress – not the president – the power of the purse and insist many of the projects funded by earmarks are worthwhile.