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Obama: No earmarks for 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Sen. Obama's staff says he won't ask for any federal funding requests in '09
  • He submitted a laundry list of funding requests in his first year in office
  • Obama: "The entire earmark process needs to be re-examined and reformed"
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By Drew Griffin and Scott Bronstein
CNN
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(CNN) -- Last year Sen. Barack Obama, submitted a laundry list of federal funding requests, known as earmarks, to the Senate Appropriations Committee: 112 earmarks totaling more than $330 million in taxpayer funds.

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Sen. Barack Obama's staff say he won't request any federal spending earmarks for 2009.

But that was last year.

This year, as the Senate funding request deadline approaches and the final primaries of the Democratic nomination process draw near, Obama's staff told CNN the junior senator from Illinois will request no earmarks for fiscal year 2009.

The dramatic change is in line with a statement Obama issued last month in connection with an amendment calling for a one-year moratorium on earmarks in the Senate.

The amendment, sponsored by federal earmark foe Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, was shot down by a vote of 79-21.

"We can no longer accept a process that doles out earmarks based on a member of Congress' seniority, rather than the merit of the project," Obama's statement said.

"The entire earmark process needs to be re-examined and reformed. For that reason, I will be supporting Sen. DeMint's amendment and will not be requesting earmarks this year for Illinois," the statement added.

Obama signed on as a co-sponsor of the amendment, as did his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, and the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

McCain does not ask for earmarks. Clinton will still make requests for the coming year, but will limit those earmarks to "the most critical needs for New York and America," according to a statement from her staff.

Clinton previously has not made her earmark requests public. But she added about $2.2 billion into spending bills between 2002 and 2006, according to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

In the 2008 budget year, Clinton -- by herself or with other lawmakers -- obtained scores of earmarks, according to the group. Those requests amounted to $342 million.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has asked all request be submitted by April 25. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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