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. DAM

    Reid needs to go AWAY. How did they vote this guy back in. He is a dinosaur. I am all for NO EARMARKS. I cannot stand earmarks. How can we run a country if you vote on a bill by what YOU get out of it? Aren't they supposed to work for us? Aren't they supposed to do what is good for the country and its people? So voting ya or nay on legislation by what crap you want extra is not how it works. There is no progress in that and partly it is why we are where we are

    January 27, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Gil

    Like I said before! I supported Reid against the loony opponent in November, with these remarks I've changed my mind!

    January 27, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  3. Deuce

    So wait, first we needed to get spending under control, and now they are arguing FOR earmarks?!?

    Jesus Christ, were they NOT just complaining about earmarks in the Health Care bill? How hypocritical can people be? How stupid do they think we are?

    January 27, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Sunny

    Reid, Back off from Washington. Just resign or retire before they throw you out. You remarks insult my intelligence.

    January 27, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  5. Hmmmm

    sounds like Harry Reid is beginning to sing the same song we've been singing for the last two years, i.e., keep your nose out of my business. All that power grabbing and pushing people around was fine, even fun, when Obama and Harry were on the same side. Now that the wolves are eating each other, Harry is beginning to see what the rest of America felt like we had unpopular policy rammed down our throats.

    January 27, 2011 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Ryan

    Harry Reid is a complete buffon. NO EARMARKS PERIOD!

    January 27, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. Rck

    Harry, you old goat, why don't you just quit. You don't serve anyone, just yourself.

    January 27, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. Rose

    I don't think Harry Reid is thinking clearly (does he ever think clearly). It makes good sense to ban earmarks during this economic disaster. I don't think too many taxpayers are interested in the highways in Elko Nevada, every state has problems and needs help. Reid is one big spender.

    January 27, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Jim

    Senator Reid is dead wrong and is concerned about his special interests. Obama is trying to do the right thjing for the American people and the country!

    January 27, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. Joyce

    Erase all earmarks from every bill. Nullify all earmarks passed the last few years will save Americans a ton of money. Stop all FOREIGN AID

    January 27, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. John G

    Well Nevada, YOU voted him in. I'm sure you're very proud of him aren't you?

    January 27, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. jeff

    Harry Reid and others who have devoted their lives to living off the tiet of American people rather than holding down a real job, need to go. Ben Franklin said something to the effect of "fish and houseguests smell after 3 days". I'll take that one step further, "Politicians become useless and beholden to special interests after one term." Term limits are the only way to eliminate the Harry Reid mentality. One term only. Get in, do the job you were sent to do, go home and get a real job.

    January 27, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. inofritzn

    Obama wanting more power? No way!(or any recent president for that matter) . CNN: about time you picked up this story.

    January 27, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. sassypants

    Oh my goodness! Stop it Harry Reid! Nobody cares what you think you need in Nevada right now. In the big picture it just doesn't matter and I don't know why you are still in office!

    January 27, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Ryan

    Harry Reid's argument is going to fall on deaf ears, as well it should. Whether that money "is going to be spent" or not is irrelevant, the problem is that it is allocated to local pet projects and big-business interests that are in the ears of the Senate and Congress. I've been disappointed how centrist the Obama administration is, but I haven't been disappointed with their ability to shut lobbyists and their ilk out of the administration. Let the executive branch allocate the money for a bit and we can all reevaluate whether it was a good idea or not in two years.

    January 27, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. Mike

    Earmarks are the party time of our Congress. It's their way to get their jollies at the expense of the American people. They hamper our laws, they influence our politicians and they should all be banned.

    January 27, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Ryan V

    Unbelievable. The earmarks are completely out of control as it is. If a bill can't make it through the congressional process on its own merits, it doesn't deserve to be shoehorned through by special interest earmarks that have nothing to do with the bill itself. I'm more right-leaning than left, but Reid needs to keep his trap shut with drivel like this.

    January 27, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Robb

    Maybe Senator Reid should learn how to save instead of spend. He seems to be very good at that already. Most earmarks are for projects that states should be handling, not the federal government. If we want smaller federal government, let's quite funding state pet projects with the senators and representatives funding them with money they steal from our pockets. If the good senator really does have a worthwhile project, submit it as a separate bill instead of tacking it onto another one in the hopes no one will notice. What do you have to hide from us?

    January 27, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. vegas01

    Dear Harry,

    The veto pen is not 'new power' for a President. Besides, I wouldn't be too concerned about Obama living up to that threat, I do not believe he could bring himself to actually reduce such spending.

    January 27, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. PAW

    "Reid ranked No. 6 in the Senate in fiscal year 2010 for the number of earmarks he got for his state, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, an anti-earmark group. Reid brought home more money than the other four members of Nevada's congressional delegation combined, pushing Nevada into the Top 10 of states that receive the most federal earmarks per capita. The only senators who got more special project funding than Reid were senior members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, whose members see bringing home the most earmarks as the principal perk of being on the panel." OF COURSE, Reid doesn't want anyone messing with his earmarks. Maybe they funded good projects for the people of Nevada. But right now, the federal gov't needs to curtail its spending. Let the individual states manage their own finances and budget accordingly. And as far as the senior members of the Appropriations Committee thinking it's their "perk" for being on that committee, to dole out money to their own states, shame on you. Humble yourselves.

    January 27, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Cleareye

    Reid is not doing his party any favors by challenging Obama. What he should be doing is re-labeling the "earmarks" to more accurately describe each item and stop the practice of sneaking these expenditures into other bills. It is the root of our distrust for Congress.

    January 27, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Katy

    The President has enough power? Hmmm I thought thats what a COMMANDER IN CHIEF is supposed to have, THE POWER. Its time out for our tax dollars to be spent on pet projects. If they want to earmark funds for their own special interest groups, take it out of your salary that WE THE PEOPLE PAY YOU. I mean, who cares why the chicken crossed the road during Superbowl Sunday.

    January 27, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. mrobinson

    Pres. Obama is not looking to grab power from the Senate, but rather to end a process that is dishonest to the American people. I find it amazing that Reid cannot seem to understand one of the main reasons we don't trust the legislative branch is their continued use of processes that are clearly wrong. If a legislator wants to provide money to his/her district for a reasonable project, by all means draft it up and get it voted on. But jamming it through the system as a rider on some other legislation to which it has no bearing is a cheap trick, and we don't like it. Wake up Harry, you almost lost last fall, don't ignore the noise around you.

    January 27, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Vegasboy

    Reid needs to learn to think before he speaks.

    He forgets he just barely won re-election from Tea Party canidate Angle.

    As a third generation Nevadan who's dad went to school with Reid, he needs to know what he thinks is best for Nevada and the rest of the U.S. isn't always what most people want.

    Just my .02

    January 27, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |

    Thank you Nevada for re-electing this imbicile for another 6 years. What is allah's name were you possibly thinking?

    January 27, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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