(CNSNews.com) - If President Barack Obama wants to keep his pledge to the American people about no pork barrel spending, he should veto the $410-billion appropriations bill pending in the Senate, which contains nearly 9,000 earmarks that total $7.7 billion, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CNSNews.com on Friday.
Congressional Democrats, however, defended the bill and said that important strides have been made in earmark reform.
“I am not saying it’s hypocritical, but I am saying if he wants to keep his commitment to the American people, he will veto this bill,” McCain told CNSNews.com when asked if he thought it would be hypocritical for Obama to sign the bill filled with earmarks given that he campaigned for earmark reform.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted down McCain’s amendment that would have stripped the earmarks from the bill by a margin of 63 to 32.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) defended President Obama, who has indicated he will sign the bill even with its earmarks.
“When you are trying to deal with energy, health care, and an economy in free fall and get an administration started – they have tried to do more than any administration in history in a shorter timeframe – to pick another fight after it has already been substantially reformed and changed, I think is not rational,” said Blumenauer.
“I think most people who agree with the efforts of trying to continue to reform would understand and probably would have done the exact same thing,” he said.
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) also defended the earmark process and indicated that, regardless of campaign promises, he thinks Obama should sign the bill.
“As far as I am concerned, the Constitution of the United States makes it very clear that the legislative branch has the power of the purse,” said Inouye. “None of us were elected to be rubber stamps.”
“The president knows my position,” said Inouye.
But freshman Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) told CNSNews.com he thinks the Senate is putting Obama in a difficult position by including earmarks in the bill.
“I think the Senate is putting the president in a tough position – not the House,” Maffei told CNSNews.com.
Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told CNSNews.com that considering Obama’s campaign promises, he thinks it would be hypocritical for Obama to sign the bill if it includes pork.
“Oh yes, of course,” it is hypocritical, Ryan told CNSNews.com. “It looks bad for this administration that they are party to this parade of pork.”
Both McCain and Ryan said that while they have not ruled out the chance that Obama will keep his campaign promise to pursue earmark reform, they are not confident.
“He has said he will,” said McCain. “But we have seen no indication that he will veto this bill, thought I am urging him to.”
“I don’t know,” said Ryan, when asked if he though Obama would keep his campaign promise to reform earmark spending. “We will see. But it doesn’t sound like it.”