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. Scott

    Typical arrogant Politician.
    They going to do whatever suits their own interest.

    January 27, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. Bill

    What does this really say about the Democratic party? They are going to spend the money but they are going to argue about who gets to spend the money and where!

    January 27, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  3. 1GregM

    ..." I know much more what's needed in Elko, Nevada . . . than some bureaucrat does back here."

    Does that apply in hindsight to your estimation of the amazing boondoggle you signed called OBamaCare you l#ing thief?

    January 27, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. james

    He sounds like a child who just got his allowance revoked.

    January 27, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Darrin G

    If Americans had half the courage that the Egyptians are now displaying we would't be in this political quagmire . Long live Egypt!I

    January 27, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  6. JR

    Here we go again with partisan politics. The American people are sick of all this constant bickering. Stop being a politician and start being a public employee accountable to the people who elected instead of all these special interests who line your pocket !!!

    January 27, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. ralph

    What Reed seems to forget in his separation of powers rhetoric is that the constitution gives the President the constitutional power to veto any bill from congress and return it within ten days for reconsideration. . It is called "checks and balances." If Reed is so fond of congressional pork than he should have congress just override the veto. That is the way our founding fathers wanted it. Read the constitution Reed.

    January 27, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  8. slavedriver

    Well, that didnt take Reid long now did it? 2012 cant come soon enougn.

    January 27, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. Marie

    Reid you need to back off earmarks ARE MOSTLY Pork that is not needed in our budget!
    You putz!

    January 27, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    reid is a whimp and never held any power when he was senate majority leader. If he was so good, the senatorial election in nevada wouldn't have been so close.

    January 27, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |

    All I can say is WOW.

    January 27, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. Padraig

    Interesting comments, thoughts, and announcing his stance publicly. I will agree with Senator Reed that there needs to be a clear division on responsiblities and that the Executive Office has to much power at the moment. I am not a fan of Senator Reed and his public stance does go against the President and probably the majority of the other elected officials that are Democrats. But, six years from now he will be safe. It was a shrewd calculated move.

    I am against earmarks and this was a pledge President Obama made while running for office and he has ignored it once elected. The only way that this will be pushed is by Republican party. Both parties are equally guilty and at fault and we the taxpayers pay for this.

    January 27, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. Cathy

    Reid has been in the Senate too long. We the people DON'T want any more earmarks!

    In the bailout, Congress could have given each citizen $500,000 instead of giving the money to Wall Street. Wall Street just gave their CEO's BIG bonuses. Citizens would have bought cars, and other stuff with the money. The recession would be over. We don't want wasteful spending!!

    January 27, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  14. Charlie

    Stupid is as stupid does...... Harry just isn't too bright. I suspect senility and Alzheimer's is setting in.

    January 27, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  15. Jeff Cox

    You're one of the reasons my party has lost control of Congress, Harry!

    Who's the top guy in my party right now? It's the President. Not you. Not Pelosi. And I fully support him trying to get things done. Enough with the stalemate already – sit down, shut up, and get out of the way ... for ALL of our sakes!

    (And this is coming from someone who's been a loyal Democrat for decades!)

    January 27, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. 1GregM

    Just wanted to say thank you to Nevada for their wasted votes in reelecting this criminal. You had the ability to do something really good for the country and remove this pariah, but you failed us all. It would seem to be only fitting that you remain a desloate, poor, unemployment plagued forgotten corner of the country.

    January 27, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. N8

    I feel like the money that congressmen "Ear mark" should come out of their own states budgets. Federal spending should never be dictated by one groups interests. The argument that "Oh, its just rearranging the money" is BS, it just takes it away from areas that will come up over budget. Plans are made with budgets in place because people with experience MADE them. when congress ear marks AFTER the plans, they do not have the experience, nor the knowledge of those who wrote the plan in the first place when it was approved.

    January 27, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  18. Marco555

    "The money will be spent one way or another.",.. That's the Rubik's Cube here. That's where we're coming up short. That's precisely why we're protesting you guys.

    January 27, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. rusty155

    I thing the President Is right the Earmarks should stop for everyone in the House and Senate.

    January 27, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. Chewy

    This is the kind of loser Obama surrounds himself with, and he wonders why we have no faith in him? Not only Reid, but also Biden, Pelosi, Holder, Frank, etc. Up until this hissy fit from Reid, they have all blindly followed the Piper and his "Hopey-Chanfy" mantra. We put a very green and inexperienced community advisor in the White House, and he looks this cast of numbskulls to advise him? Good grief! We have barely survived 2 years under the failed Obama Experiment, so it doesn't look good for the next 2. Although Obama has really never stopped campaigning (it may be the ONLY thing he does well), if we don't have a better choice in 2012, we are doomed.

    January 27, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. ssprince1

    It looks like Reid has been receiving lots of lobbyest money, otherwise why would he be concerned about supporting a fraudulent lobbyest type habit like earmarks? He's got some backs to scratch back home! He feels entitled? Why not learn to raise money and budget for his state? He sure has America's best interest at heart! Annoying! Wonder where we can search regarding how much money from which big businesses has he received money from? I'd love to know.

    January 27, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. Bill

    Senator Reid also knows who in Elko Nevada will get him re-elected, the special interest groups that funded his campaign. I suppose those are the people who need the earmarks. The "back off" statement is more sound bite politics that infest the political dialogue these days.

    January 27, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. Dave

    Poor harry, doesn't he understand that Obama wouldn't be in the Senates business if the Senate did their job and supported what the country needed, not just Elko nevadfa. I mean look at all the pork that old man Byrd did in WVA> I mean a Coast Guard facility in land locked West Va. Cmon dude get a grip.

    January 27, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Common Sense

    Nevada should have voted him out when they had the chance. The thug unions and special interests won in November. I don't think dirty Harry got the message about spending.

    January 27, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. rs1201

    Obama is on the mark...NO MORE EARMARKS. REID just wants to continue the pork barreling that's been going on for decades. It's enough...WE'RE BROKE...NO MORE EARMARKS.

    January 27, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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