With the House of Representatives and the Senate Republicans imposing an earmark moratorium and President Barack Obama jumping on the bandwagon, earmarkers are left with only one outlet. The Senate Democratic caucus does not appear willing to stop earmark spending among their members. Michael Crowley at Time’s Swampland flags some comments from Democratic senators:
From the New York Times:
Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and a veteran member of the Appropriations Committee, said “the president is dead wrong on this issue.”
“I think there’s a valid and good reason why senators and congressmen should be able to direct certain monies,” Mr. Harkin said.
A spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said individual senators should decide if they favor earmarks. Because Democrats will retain control of the Senate in the next Congress, a decision by them to continue allowing earmarks could keep the practice alive, at least in spending bills passed by the upper chamber.
“I don’t think the earmark process will disappear,” said Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.
And so we are left with the obvious path for all earmarks: through the Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee. If you are a firm that makes a living off of earmarks there is only one thing to do start contributing money to Senate Democrats and hire a lobbying firm boasting former Democratic senators and former Senate Democratic staffers.
According to data obtained from the Center for Responsive Politics, sixty-three lobbyists previously worked for Senate Appropriations Democrats. Not all of these lobbyists currently work on appropriations issues, but quite a few do and they could see a big increase in business. Also, in the current down market for former Democratic staffers seeking to be lobbyists this is one bright spot for Democrats looking for a way to sell their skill set to K Street firms.