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Political Notebook

Pledge on earmarks to fall in spending bill

March 2, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The White House played down massive deficit spending and President Obama's pledge not to sign legislation laden with billions in earmarks yesterday, amid Republican criticism that he was recanting on a campaign vow.

The administration's top budget official, Peter Orszag, said Obama would sign the $410 billion spending bill despite a campaign pledge that he would reject tailored budget requests that let lawmakers send money to their home states. Orszag said Obama would move ahead and overlook the time-tested tradition that lets officials divert millions at a time to pet projects.

It was the Washington equivalent of officials pinching their nose and swallowing a bitter pill.

"This is last year's business," Orszag said, offering an acknowledgment that Obama would sign a bill that doesn't conform with his campaign vows. "We want to just move on. Let's get this bill . . . into law and move forward."

Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel offered similar language: "That's last year's business."

Orszag appeared on ABC's "This Week."

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Specter in the middle on 'card check' legislation
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Twenty-nine years into his Senate career, Arlen Specter cast what he calls his most difficult vote - a "yes" on the $787 billion economic stimulus bill that made him the only Republican facing reelection in 2010 to support it.

Now, with GOP anger still simmering, Specter is under pressure to buck the party again and support "card check" legislation to make it easier for workers to form unions.

It is the latest tight spot for the 79-year-old Specter, a moderate who is used to being on the political rack, stretched between the wishes of an increasingly conservative party and an increasingly liberal state.

Republicans appear to be otherwise unified against the card check bill, which is expected to surface this year. They worry that Specter could exert influence over its final form and whether it comes up for a vote, as he did on the stimulus.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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