Senator John McCain is not giving up his fight against earmarks, even though the Senate rejected his attempt on Tuesday to strip them from the spending bill going through Congress.
Teaming up with Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, the Arizona Republican and former presidential candidate announced this morning they're introducing legislation to give the president a line-item veto to block earmarks.
McCain said earmarks -- which critics call pork-barrel projects -- represent a "corrupt practice" that has infiltrated Congress.
"I don't use the term corruption lightly," McCain said.
Feingold noted that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said last week that President Obama might want to "test drive" a line-item veto, different versions of which have been declared unconstitutional by federal courts.
It's time to "walk the walk," Feingold said.
UPDATE: Feingold said he believes this legislation would pass constitutional muster because Congress would have to vote whether to agree to the earmark cuts the president wanted. If either the House or Senate voted by a single majority against the cuts, the projects would be funded.
Gibbs said while the administration needs to study the details of the bill, Obama wouldn't turn down a line-item veto that is approved by the courts.
"I think what the president wants is to be able to, as he outlined today, with Democrats and Republicans, work with Congress to reduce the amount of wasteful spending that we have each year," Gibbs told reporters at his daily briefing. "That's the best way to go out and do this, to continue to look for the inefficiencies and the waste, to follow prescribed solutions for this that in many cases have been identified and just simply not acted on."
The $410 billion spending measure includes more than 8,500 earmarks totaling $7.7 billion, watchdog groups say. The Senate voted 63-32 on Tuesday against the attempt by McCain to remove them.
So far, the White House has cast the earmarks as last year's business, since the bill would finish out the budget that started last Oct. 1, before Obama became president.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.