White House Rebuffs Reid on Earmarks

By The Hill, The Hill - January 28, 2011

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs doubled down on President Obama's pledge to veto any bill with earmarks in it despite comments from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that Obama should "back off."

After Obama said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that he would veto any bill that comes to his desk containing earmarks, Reid was defiant. 

"I think it's absolutely wrong and the public should understand that the president has enough power; he should back off and let us do what we do," Reid told NBC News, adding that Obama's veto threat was an "applause line."

But Gibbs dug in on Thursday, saying that Obama will not bend, and if a bill with earmarks lands on the president's desk, "he will veto it, and he will send it back."

"The president was clear on this," Gibbs said. "We're going to make some very, very tough decisions, as the president talked about, in his budget. We're going to make some decisions that cut programs that Democrats and Republicans alike will both say are important.

"But we're doing that because we know right now the government spends far, far more than it takes in and that that can't continue."

When it was pointed out to Gibbs that the standoff over earmarks is a major point of disagreement between Obama and one of his top allies on Capitol Hill, Gibbs agreed. "It is," he said.

"I don't know why you or how you could ask different agencies in different places to undertake an exercise that those on Capitol Hill are unwilling to take themselves," Gibbs said. 

Gibbs said that Obama has been opposed to earmarks since the campaign, and when he pledges to veto a bill that contains them, "I take him at his word."

Gibbs said Obama has not spoken with Reid about the matter since the State of the Union.

When asked if Obama would veto a continuing resolution that contains earmarks, Gibbs said Obama "would tell leaders in Congress before the bill got here not to send it here, because he'll send it back."

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