Federal Relations

November 30, 2010

US Senate to Vote on Earmark Ban

The Senate postponed until this morning a vote on a measure that would ban all earmarks for the next three years. The chamber will vote on an amendment to food safety legislation proposed by Senator Coburn (R-OK) that would create a Senate rule effectively prohibiting the chamber from considering any measure containing earmarks.  Coburn’s amendment would require two-thirds of senators present and voting for approval, and it’s unlikely his proposal will meet that threshold.  Read moreabout Coburn’s amendment.

UPDATE:  Earlier today, the Senate passed the most significant overhaul of federal food safety regulations in seven decades, which would expand the FDA’s power over the food supply.  The House should take action before the end of the week and send the measure to Obama for his signature.  During the debate in the Senate, senators effectively killed any further talk about a binding three-year ban on congressional earmarks.  But since earmark projects have nothing to do with food safety, and amendments to a bill are supposed to be germane after cloture is invoked, two-thirds of the Senate would have had to agree to even allow an up-or-down vote on the proposed earmark curb.  Instead, the tally was a decisive 39-56 against allowing a vote on the earmark ban amendment.