At a time when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell should be rallying his Republican colleagues around the issue of fiscal responsibility, the
appropriator is showing his true colors as a big spender intent on saving his pork-barrel projects. Kentucky
President Bush appeared intent on issuing an executive order canceling lawmakers' earmarks in the wake of the $555 billion omnibus spending bill last month. But sources tell me that it's unlikely to happen as a result of an intense lobbying effort organized by McConnell and carried out by other Republican appropriators.
McConnell's behavior is somewhat surprising given his tough re-election bid this year and his promise to rebrand the GOP as good stewards of taxpayers' money. He has certainly done himself no favors with the conservative base and now threatens to further alienate members of his own caucus by standing in the way of Bush's order.
Although the situation does not look good for an anti-earmark executive order, conservatives are clinging to the slightest hope that McConnell will back down before Bush makes his decision public on Tuesday. Taxpayers' groups in Washington are planning to refocus their efforts on McConnell, viewing him as the linchpin.