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Surprise, earmarks are back in Congress

The Government Printing Office and the Office of Management and Budget hold an event to release and distribute President Obama's budget for FY2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Now that the Congressional tax cut fight is finished, there's a new battle being waged on Capitol Hill. About control of the budget. This week, Senate Democrats decided to scrap a $1.2 trillion spending bill that would've funded the federal government until October. But Republican lawmakers were reluctant to support the bill because it was full of earmarks.

Marketplace's David Gura reports.


: Steve Ellis is with the group Taxpayers for Common Sense. He said the spending bill was "the ultimate sausage," with almost 7,000 earmarks. A few weeks ago, the GOP swore off these pet projects. That prompted critics to say some Republicans had done an about face.

STEVE ELLIS: Getting their earmarks in this spending bill, and being able to tout them, at the same denouncing earmarks. They wouldn't be the first politicians to talk out of both sides of their mouths.

Opponents said they were surprised by the size of the bill. It was almost 2,000 pages. Mark Van de Water used to work for the Senate Appropriations Committee.

MARK VAN DE WATER: I don't buy the fact that this is a sort of surprise.

Congress's deadline was three months ago. He says consistuents might think the government spends too much money, but they're less likely to complain when it's spent -- on them. Democrats didn't want to wait. This is their last chance to shape the federal budget for a while.

VAN DE WATER: The political play here is how many seats you have at the table.

And the seating chart gets rearranged next year. The Senate hopes to vote on a short-term, stop-gap spending bill by Saturday. It'll be a slimmer version, with far fewer earmarks.

In Washington, I'm David Gura, for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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