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McCaskill report concludes US House members circumvented earmark ban

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

A report issued Monday by Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri concludes that US House members circumvented a ban on earmark spending more than 100 times. (read full report here)

House Republicans banned earmarks last fall for two years to curb government spending. But, McCaskill's report finds that the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee used tricks to allow more than $800 million in earmarks be inserted in the 2012 Defense authorization bill.

McCaskill says even with the ban, Capitol Hill has struggled to change its ways.

"Most of the folks when I first got there, kind of patted me on the head, and treated me like I was insane for thinking I could ever do anything about earmarks," McCaskill said.

Chair of the committee, Howard McKeon, has announced he will strip $700 million in earmarks from the defense bill.

A final version of the bill is expected next week.

However, McCaskill's claims are not without criticism.

McCaskill is on the defense against an attack that she voted for earmarks while leading the charge to end them.
John Brunner, a Republican campaigning for McCaskill's senate seat, has released a video pointing to her 2009 vote in favor of a $2 million earmark for a Water Taxi Service at an abandoned beach in Connecticut.

McCaskill calls the attack "a cheap shot" and says she has never sought or requested an earmark as senator.

"I made a decision early on that if I voted against every piece of legislation that had an earmark in it I would be voting against the farm bill, I would be voting against pay raises for the troops," McCaskill said.


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