Small band of Senators put brakes on pork spending

Robert Novak reports on a group of budget hawks who are shutting down the Senate favor factory:

While House Republicans reacted to stinging rejection from America’s voters by refusing to change leadership, their Senate counterparts have tried to use their closing weeks in power to enact a last burst of pork-barrel spending. But that effort was stalled last week by independent-minded Republican senators, spearheaded by two abrasive freshmen and one longtime hairshirt. Before Congress recessed Friday for Thanksgiving, the GOP leadership appeared to capitulate.

The freshmen, Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint, campaigning in 2004 in Oklahoma and South Carolina, promised not to fall in line with GOP leaders. Fulfilling that pledge allied them with the long-termer John McCain. They have been backed by Jeff Sessions of Alabama and another freshman, John Sununu of New Hampshire. In the lame-duck session’s first week, they played Horatio at the Bridge by combining to block a pork-filled omnibus spending bill.

Good for them. This group if they stick together will be able to do a lot of damage to the dreams on many an appropriator. It also should be pointed out that this group is largely the same as the group of seven senators who combined to form the “fiscal watch team” last year. The FWT joined forces in 2005 to echo the House Republican Study Committee’s calls for offsets for emergency Katrina funding.

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