Reid to Obama: 'Back off' on earmarks
January 27th, 2011
12:41 PM ET
12 years ago

Reid to Obama: 'Back off' on earmarks

(CNN) – Freshly reelected to another six-year term, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t holding back fire when it comes to his disagreements with President Obama over a ban on earmarks.

“This is an applause line,” the Nevada Democrat told NBC News Wednesday regarding Obama’s pledge not to sign a bill with earmark spending in it. “It’s an effort by the White House to get more power. They have enough power as it is.”

The comments come a day after the president’s State of the Union address, during which he said, “Because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren't larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.”

Reid maintains the president’s pledge will not reduce the deficit but instead seizes power traditionally delegated to the Senate. Most Republicans support the pledge, but several Democrats have also expressed disagreement with the president, noting the money will be spent one way or another.

“The money is going to be spent anyway,” said Reid. “The difference is the White House is going to be directed where its spent, not us. That’s our obligation. This does not save any money.”

According to the nonpartisan fact, the vast majority of earmarks direct federal agencies how to spend their previously-approved budgets, rather than create new spending projects.

Added a visibly frustrated Reid, "I have a constitutional obligation to do congressionally-directed spending. I know much more what's needed in Elko, Nevada . . . than some bureaucrat does back here."

Reid, himself a former boxer who has always been quick with fighting words, added the president needs to “back off” this argument.

“The American public should understand, and I am sure they will as time goes by, that the president has enough power. He should just back off. He’s get enough to do without messing in what we do.”

Filed under: Harry Reid
soundoff (226 Responses)
  1. Njfinest2009

    Harry Reid? Didn't you only beat Sharon Angle by a thread? sounds to me like you are out to destroy the democrats with your insanity! You sit back and let Obama do what he needs to do. You worry about keeping your seat safe for the next 6 years...

    January 27, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. wayne

    earmarks are just another way of scratching each others backs and lining their pockets.

    January 27, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. rockysfan

    Mr Reid needs to back off and take a breath. Excuse me Mr but you work for the People! How dare you be so disrespectful. Apparently Washington is already forgetting the election – the voters are SICK TO DEATH of EARMARKS, want jobs and want DC to clean up it's act. Do you read Mr Reid? Washington was part of the problem with in getting the economy to the dismal spot it's in now. Maybe you've been in Washington a tad too long Reid. Maybe your constiuents need to vote your sorry butt out next election! YOU, MR REID, SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!!!!

    January 27, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. Will O'Reilly

    Harry Here's a news flash for you: We are broke!

    January 27, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Phil in KC

    I'm a liberal Democrat, but even I have to recognize that this is NOT a very smart move by Reid and others. At this point, he should be supporting the President.

    January 27, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Video Guy

    What is stopping him from writing a bill along with a few of his friends to cover stuff that would otherwise be a earmark?

    January 27, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. TomInRochNY

    Constituents to Ried: 'Back off' on earmarks.

    January 27, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. juggadore

    whatever harry reid... i'm with the prez on this one...

    January 27, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Annie, Atlanta

    Good for you, Senator Reid. Some of these "earmarks" are stimulative. A blanket statement, as was made by the President, makes for good politics, but doesn't make sense otherwise.

    January 27, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. Jerry

    Oh wow! Lets see if our somewhat clueless president will let Boss (King) Reed have his way.

    This senile idiot is really letting power go to his head. Arizonans, do you now realize the huge mistake you folks made in reelecting this moron?

    I guess there is always the recall process!

    Stay tuned!

    January 27, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. peter

    Harry Reid should stop and think before he takes his boxing stance. first which party am I in? am I going to be a bottle neck to my president? Am I going to help? does this help the country or just me politically? get with the program Reid before you are a dinasour..........

    January 27, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  12. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - John "The Weeper of the House" Boehner

    Earmarks were a big topic of debate in the 2008 election. I think the President is right for standing by his campaign promises. With all due respect Sen. Reid, the Senate is broken and needs fixing. That should be your #1 concern. Reform the filibuster.

    January 27, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. KSR

    MAYBE, just maybe....Mr Reid should focus his efforts on getting included in any talks about where that spending should go if he thinks it is going somewhere other than his branch, instead of getting awfully (suspiciously) irritated about the desire to cut out ear mark spending.

    January 27, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Brody

    Come on, Senator Reid has to have some way to buy votes.

    January 27, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    He is so gratefull now that he has been reelected isnt he?

    January 27, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. KM

    Whether this is Sen. Reid or someone else, I do agree with him on this point. Congress is the ONLY branch of government authorized to allocate when, where and how money is spent. I am not immune to understand that congress allocate funding for "pet" projects back home in their own districts. However, as Sen. Reid mentioned, if 100 million is allocated to Georgia for road construction, with earmarks, a particular congressman can dictate that 10 million will go to fund road repaving on I-20 in the city of Atlanta. By taking that power away from Congress, someone in the Department of Transportation will now have that authority to make those decisions with no one to answer to but the President regardless of who is in power.

    January 27, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. DDM

    Stop the earmarks. If the money will be spent, anyway, then spend it on paying down the embarrassing and dangerous national debt. Individual citizens are expected to pay their personal debts, aren't they? Why should our nations debt be treated any differently.

    January 27, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. Alan

    The Cost-to-Benefit-to-Politics ration doesn't pan out for earmarks. Yes, they cost next to nothing in the grand scheme of government spending, but they're so reviled, there's no need to fight for them. I'm sure Elko, NV will get its money one way or another.

    January 27, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. Seriously?

    Sorry Harry, but you're an idiot! You and your cronies helped create this mess, not sit down and shut up while the smart guy tries to fix your messes.

    January 27, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. vic nashville tn

    Wow strong statement
    Earmarks is bounce check every bill they support they will add earmarks

    January 27, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  21. Enough is Enough

    " Reid maintains the president’s pledge will not reduce the deficit" so he thinks that if we don't waste money the deficit won't change. This is beyond dumb.

    January 27, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. PalmReader

    “The American public should understand, and I am sure they will as time goes by, that the president has enough power. He should just back off. He’s get enough to do without messing in what we do.”

    Sorry, Reid. I really think you might find yourself on the losing end of this argument, and perhaps it is YOU who should just back off. If it comes down to cutting Social Security and Medicare versus your pet projects, I am in favor of seeing those pesky earmarks you and your cohorts are so very fond of to be the first on the chopping block. In fact, so insistent am I, that I want ALL earmarks eliminated immediately.

    January 27, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. JohnM

    Apparently houdini harry doesn't have a clue how or why the government is supposed to function! This fool in this position says a lot about why the democrats are in the mess they're in(well him and numbnutz nancy).

    January 27, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. Tam

    In all honesty, can he say that all earmarks are good for the country and some are not corrupt? Didn't think so.

    January 27, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. John Q

    Reid just doesn't want Obama to get in the way of his vote buying. He may get his way, as the White House is already backtracking on that part of the speech in a released memo anyway. Not to mention Obama has previously promised the same during his campaigns and broke those, why should he keep this most recent one?

    January 27, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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