Senate Republicans voted Wednesday to continue their ban on earmarks — or money for special projects — but "the whole debate was pretty much for show because GOP senators can take earmarks with or without the ban," Politico reports. Senate rules allow earmarks, and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) reportedly told his colleagues at their private lunch, "You can't stop me." Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also said she plans on trying to nail down earmarks for projects in Maine. House Republicans dumped their earmarks ban last week.
Several Senate Republicans expected to run for president, including Ted Cruz (Texas), Tom Cotton (Ark.), and Josh Hawley (Mo.), have decried earmarks as wasteful and corrupt. But here's "a fun little side drama to all of this," Politico added:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), a fan of earmarks, had been telling appropriators that his pal [former President Donald] Trump was about to weigh in with a letter endorsing the controversial practice — giving cover to Republicans worried about blowback. But some Republicans snickered at Graham’s assurance, wondering whether Trump even knew what an earmark was. More likely, they speculated Graham was trying to make it seem like Trump supported earmarks. Whatever the case, the promised letter from Trump never materialized. [Politico]
Whatever Trump's views on earmarks, or lack thereof, former Vice President Mike Pence's new organization tweeted they "just make it easier to enact the Biden-Harris-Pelosi-Schumer agenda." Presumably, he meant that in a bad way.
Senate Republicans also approved a resolution to oppose raising the debt ceiling without corresponding spending cuts. That resolution is also nonbinding, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called it "aspirational," but if Republicans follow through, it could set up another high-stakes debt ceiling showdown this summer.