Politico: Alexander leads crackdown on spending

Posted on November 12, 2010

As conservative senators are pushing a controversial earmark moratorium, Senate Republican leaders are seeking to unite their conference against what they see as excessive Washington spending in other parts of the budget.

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Senate GOP Conference chairman, plans to offer a resolution calling for GOP senators to reject unfunded mandates on state and local governments and another one seeking a ban on new entitlement spending programs.

Alexander has enlisted 12 Republican senators to back his unfunded mandate proposal, including seven freshmen, while he’s won the support of 11 GOP senators on his entitlement measure – and a majority of them are incoming senators.

“The new health care law is the most vivid example of Washington politicians putting into law their big ideas and sending the bill to state and local taxpayers,” Alexander said in a “dear colleague” letter that was obtained by POLITICO.

Much – if not all – of the new 47-member GOP Conference will likely back the leadership’s push, as well as a call to enact a balanced budget amendment that has been proposed by Texas Sen. John Cornyn.

But one thing remains a question ahead of Tuesday’s meeting: whether the conference will adopt a two-year earmark moratorium that has been proposed by Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Senior senators are pushing hard to kill the measure, and the vote could very well be close.