Speaker Boehner is bragging on Twitter: "Republicans are putting an end to business as usual in Washington. No more earmarks."
The Huffington Post provides a useful corrective in a news article headlined "Omnibus Budget Proves That Earmarks Will Never Die in Congress":
Judging by the press releases that flooded Washington on Tuesday, you might think the lawmakers had single-handedly obtained money for pet projects in their home districts.
"Rooney Secures Funding To Fight Citrus Disease" blared a release from Florida Rep. Tom Rooney (R). Meanwhile, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski's office announced that the GOP senator's "Advocacy Reaps … Aid" and her "Campaign Gets $75M for Fish Disasters." On the Democratic side, Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) boasted that he had won extra money for a university research lab. "I am thrilled to have helped secure $64 million for the lab -- $5 million more than last year," he said in a release....
In Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) announced $310 million in funding for the construction of six Coast Guard fast responder cutters to be built at Bollinger Shipyards in her state. The Obama administration had asked for just two of those ships to be built in its budget, while House Republicans sought only four.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) touted his work to secure $90 million in U.S. Army fundsto build Abrams tanks in Lima, Ohio. This new spending comes despite repeated attempts by the Army itself to discontinue production of the tank. Portman, a supporter of the ban on earmarking, included in his celebratory press release a letter that he had sent Senate appropriators to lobby for the money.
Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin announced that Michigan State University would receive $55 million to build the Facility for Rare Isotopic Beams. MSU President Lou Anna Simon called it a "Rose Bowl-like win" and thanked the two Democratic senators and three Republican representatives -- Dave Camp, Mike Rogers and Fred Upton -- for their work in the matter.
This kind of directed spending was supposed to have been banned when both chambers of Congress adopted an earmark moratorium in 2010.
It sure looks to me like the Huffington Post is closer to the truth of this one than Speaker Boehner is. On the other hand, the Constitution does give Congress the power of the purse, and on some level this spending must be politically popular with at least some constituencies, especially those who don't have to pay for it through taxes, because the money is coming either from taxing a small minority of "the rich," or by borrowing it from China or future generations of Americans who don't now vote.