Tea party critical of Blunt on earmarks

If there was ever going to be a honeymoon period between Republican Sen.-elect Roy Blunt and one of Missouri’s largest tea party contingents, it apparently ended before he even took office.

The St. Louis Tea Party has accused Blunt of turning his back on their movement because he has refused to support a proposed ban on earmarks.

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, reversed course Tuesday and said he would go along with a ban on earmarks — a practice in which lawmakers steer federal spending to pet projects in their states and districts. The tea party movement has long supported doing away with earmarks.

Blunt, the longtime congressman from southwest Missouri who defeated Democrat Robin Carnahan on Nov. 2, does not support a ban, though he said earlier this year he would back a one-year moratorium. He released a statement on Tuesday announcing a plan to reduce federal spending. But the plan does not include a ban on earmarks.

His unwillingness to go along with the ban has angered some in Missouri’s tea party movement. The St. Louis Tea Party, one of the state’s largest tea party groups, said in a statement on Tuesday that Blunt’s signature of a “Tea Party Treaty” in October signaled that he understood “the concerns of his constituents, as well as his duty to them.”

But the statement said multiple calls to Blunt’s office since the election have not been returned, and his Twitter account has seemingly gone inactive. The statement said the “message this blatant silence speaks to the constituents: ‘I lied. I got your vote. I will do what I want. Burn on you.’”

Calls seeking comment on Wednesday from Blunt’s office and from the St. Louis Tea Party were not returned.

The treaty itself does not specifically mention earmarks. A copy of the treaty found on the St. Louis Tea Party’s website lists three beliefs: That the health care reform bill should be immediately repealed; that government should reduce taxes and cut spending; and that the federal bureaucracy should be reduced.

“I resolve to be a proponent for small government across the board, and agree to be held accountable for failure to abide by this pledge,” the treaty concludes.

Last week, Blunt’s deputy chief of staff, Burson Taylor Snyder, told The Associated Press: “Mr. Blunt has said repeatedly that he will keep fighting for the smallest possible federal budget. Then, if there are projects to be competed for, he will compete — in an open and transparent way — for Missouri’s fair share of the tax dollars sent to Washington.

“He does not believe that a bureaucrat in the Obama Administration who is not accountable to the voters should be making decisions about the allocation of federal resources.”

Missouri’s other senator, Democrat Claire McCaskill, is among the most vocal supporters of the earmarks ban. Carnahan also supported the ban.

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