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Senate ban on budget earmarks: Can it really work?

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Hyungwon Kang/Reuters

(Read caption) Senator John McCain (R) of Arizona speaks at the 2010 meeting of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, Nov. 15. A bipartisan group of four US senators, including John McCain, announced Tuesday that they’ll push for a vote on a plan to ban earmarks.

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A bipartisan group of four US senators announced Tuesday that they’ll push for a vote on a plan to ban earmarks. The lawmakers involved – Republicans John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and Democrats Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Mark Udall of Colorado – want a moratorium on earmarks to go into effect immediately and last at least through 2013.

“Earmarks are not only wasteful but are terrible distractions for both parties. The sooner we get rid of earmarks the sooner we can go to work on the difficult task of getting our budget under control,” said Senator Coburn in a statement on the group’s effort.

This hands-across-the-aisle move is only the latest in a series of things indicating that earmarks, or pet projects of lawmakers, may be about to end. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky, a longtime defender of earmark spending, has switched sides, for instance, and now supports a ban. So does President Obama.

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