Last week, the local “newspapers” featured area congressman David McKinley’s efforts on earmarks. (I wrote about it here.) As a follow-up, I decided to research what WV’s junior senator, Shelley Moore Capito, is saying about the subject.
From Roll Call last month, here is Capito hedging on the Senate rule banning earmarks:
"I think there is a rule that bans earmarks, but there's also a rule that says we're not bound by the rules," Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the top Republican on Homeland Security appropriations, said Wednesday [April 14]. "So I don't know that there's going to be an effort to actually overturn [the ban] or just clarify it."
A week later, the New York Times reported:
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, told reporters that she planned to “look seriously at earmarks.”
“If I can make my voice heard and be specific on it and mindful of the transparency, I don’t have a problem with that,” Ms. Capito, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said.
But at the end of April, Capito appeared to want earmarks banned from her committee’s upcoming transportation bill that will likely be a part of the infrastructure plan:
Then, last Wednesday, Politico reported that Capito would be looking for earmarks:
At least six GOP senators plan to violate their conference's toothless earmark ban and more than a dozen others won't commit either way, citing fears that they're relinquishing power to Democrats if they don't participate, according to a POLITICO survey of all 50 upper-chamber Republicans.
Here is Politico’s list:
To her credit and unlike our local congressman and local Republican propaganda outlet, Senator Capito has not been (at least that I could find) righteously indignant (and hypocritical) to the idea of earmarks. And given the bottomless pit that is public works, Capito’s banning of them from the highway bill strikes me as a prudent, if possibly naïve, stance. (I think that’s going to be a tough one for her to enforce.)
Of course, it is hard to discuss this subject without mentioning West Virginia’s earmark-hall-of-famer, Robert C. Byrd. According to CBS News, Byrd was the first senator to pass the $1 billion mark (in 1999) and by 2006, he had passed the $3 billion threshold. ABC News, at the time of his death in 2010, put his career total at $3.3 billion. If you travel around the state, it’s not hard to see the fruits of his efforts. For instance, there are currently at least 50 building in the state with “Byrd” as part of its name. That’s a lot of pork for one of the most ill-fed states in the union.