Anti-Earmark Republican Jon Kyl Slips $200 Million Earmark into Bill
WASHINGTON—Senate Republicans' ban on earmarks -- money included in a bill by a lawmaker to benefit a home-state project or interest -- was short-lived.
Only three days after GOP senators and senators-elect renounced earmarks, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Senate Republican, got himself a whopping $200 million to settle an Arizona Indian tribe's water rights claim against the government.
Kyl slipped the measure into a larger bill sought by President Barack Obama and passed by the Senate on Friday to settle claims by black farmers and American Indians against the federal government. Kyl's office insists the measure is not an earmark, and the House didn't deem it one when it considered a version earlier this year.
But it meets the know-it-when-you-see-it test, critics say. Under Senate rules, an earmark is a spending item inserted "primarily at the request of a senator" that goes "to an entity, or (is) targeted to a specific state."
Prediction: The next two years are going to see endless disputations about what the word "earmark" means. It's going to look like a convention for the Oxford Freakin' Dictionary in Republican congressional press offices, and it's all going to be staged in order to convince the Tea Party gang that no, really, this particular goodie brought back home is most definitely NOT a dreaded "earmark." It's an … um … "project" or "expenditure" or "investment"….
Ironically, what Kyl's bringing home here sounds like a good deal, both for the Native American tribe in particular and Arizona residents in general:
The $200 million in Kyl's measure would be used to construct and maintain a drinking water project on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, including a dam, reservoir, treatment plant and delivery pipelines.
Infrastructure! Jobs! Clean water!
Of course, none of that means anything to the Tea Party cohort. Welcome to the Age of Absolutism: Republican officials are going to be torn for years between doing what's good economically for their states and what will satisfy the non-spending purists in their party.