Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday brushed back an expected proposal from President Obama to ban earmarks.
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Reid said that the plan is “a lot of pretty talk” and would cede too much power to the executive branch.
It would give “the president more power, and he’s got enough power already,” he said.
Obama is expected to include a call for an earmark ban in his State of the Union address, which he will deliver Tuesday night. Obama and Reid have long been on opposite sides of the earmark debate, and Reid’s comments indicate that the proposal could run aground in the upper chamber.
The president will likely announce the earmark ban and a temporary non-defense discretionary spending freeze in his speech Tuesday night in an effort to extend an olive branch to fiscal conservatives, especially because he is also expected to call for targeted spending projects in education and infrastructure.
But the Senate defeated a two-year moratorium on pork barrel spending in November of last year with a handful of Republicans joining most Democrats in opposition.
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that Obama’s spending freeze is also not enough to satisfy Republicans who want to implement greater spending reductions.
“It strikes most of us that the effort by the House of Representatives to get us back to 2008 spending levels would be the direction to go if we really wanted to have an impact on our annual deficit problem,” he said.