Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) had to do a little rhetorical dance on Fox News this morning to explain why the new omnibus spending bill that he opposes includes millions of dollars worth of his own earmark requests.
Cornyn, who was one of the Republicans who pushed for an earmark ban before Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got aboard, was nominally on “America’s Newsroom” to discuss his opposition to the bill itself. “It’s really shocking and it’s profoundly disrespectful,” he said. But host Bill Hemmer quickly turned the conversation to a discussion of the Republican’s earmarks — and didn’t let up. (A news conference Cornyn held today with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) took a similar turn.)
“Now, you yourself have asked for earmarks, too, according to this list, some 16 million for your home state,” Hemmer said. “Can you defend that, Senator?”
“Well, I believe I can, but I’m not going to, because I’m going to vote against this bill,” Cornyn responded. “This is just — the Republican conference, all Republican Senators, voted for a two-year earmark moratorium so we can fix this broken system, as we try to come to an agreement on how to control the debt, and to embrace some of the recommendations of the fiscal commission. So I am for voting this bill down, even though it could arguably help some of my constituents.”
“But you favor earmarks is what you’re saying,” Hemmer said.
“I do not,” Cornyn insisted. “I think we need an earmark moratorium — which I voted for — for two years, until we fix this broken system. Because it’s become a symbol.”
“I got it, but I’m confused, then,” Hemmer said. “Why is there $16 million in requests from you listed here? Is that not true?”
“Early on in the year I did request earmarks that I think are individually defensible,” Cornyn said. “And if we had a debate on the floor, I think I could show how they help our men and women in uniform fight two different wars.”
“Ok, alright, we’ll watch that then, understood,” Hemmer said.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com