The US State Department calls the purchase of Obama's books "standard practice," but critics call it "inappropriate."
Deficit hawks and watchdog groups see Thursday's demise of an omnibus spending bill in the Senate as a turning point. A critical mass of lawmakers, they say, are committed to an earmark ban.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid wants to take up a slew of important issues after the tax deal is passed – from a $1.2 trillion budget bill to a repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.'
In many ways, the Republicans' voluntary two-year earmark ban is limited in scope. But it's already undermining Congress's spending 'cardinals' and changing how lobbyists lobby Capitol Hill.
Earmarks have been abandoned by most congressional Republicans, pushed by results from the midterm elections. Senate Democrats will have a difficult time supporting earmarks, both now in the lame duck session and next year.
Senate Republicans decide to swear off earmarks. Now, they will try to persuade the Democrats to do the same. But many Democrats – and some Republicans, too – are wary.
Pressure from tea party-backed Republican freshmen senators led Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell to reverse course: He said Monday he would back an earmark ban.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (l.) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D) of Pennsylvania, take questions during a news conference in Philadelphia, Penn., on Aug. 17. Bloomberg endorsed Sestak in his bid to fill Sen. Arlen Specter's Senate seat.
With the federal deficit at $1.5 trillion, some voters are balking at politicians who tout a record of securing ‘pork barrel’ projects.