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Sweet column: When it comes to earmarks (aka pork), Duckworth with McCain. Roskam with Durbin.

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House Democratic hopeful Tammy Duckworth said she rejects earmarking federal dollars for projects, even if it means fewer projects for her west suburban congressional district.


In an interesting development, Duckworth said she agreed with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is on a crusade to ban earmarks, or spending that circumvents the appropriations and authorization process.

Duckworth is running against state Sen. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton), and his spokesman said that Roskam is siding with Duckworth patron Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on this one. Durbin, who sits on the Senate Appropriations panel, is not against a ban on these projects.

Duckworth, who in recent days fired the campaign manager who helped launch her bid, took the "no-pork'' pledge during a session with reporters while in Washington for an "Emily's List'' conference.

In the spotlight

Emily's List, a major source of funding for viable female candidates who support abortion rights, highlighted Duckworth and Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) at an annual conference.

Their suburban Chicago races are in the national spotlight because they could determine which party controls the House in November.

Earmarks are under attack for driving up the deficit and debt and, because they can be done anonymously, for being used as rewards to special interests. Lawmakers like earmarks because it is a way to bring home money for the district.

I asked Duckworth her position on earmarks. ``I will not support earmarks. I agree with Sen. McCain on this one. I think that if something is important enough to the district, it is important enough to go through the entire budgetary process.''

She said she wanted to curb the federal debt and deficit.

Ramping up her bid

Roskam spokesman Ryan McLaughlin said Duckworth's position on earmarks would "not help DuPage and Cook County fix their current traffic congestion problems'' and noted Roskam has the same position as Durbin, "which is not all earmarks are bad and people in a district need an advocate for their communities.''

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has used earmarks to steer millions of dollars to Illinois and his district. ``The Illinois delegation needs to work as a team,'' McLaughlin said.


Duckworth is ramping up her November bid by replacing Joe Shafer with Jon Carson, who is charged with developing a more aggressive field organization.


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1 Comment

J.Dennis Hastert does do earmarks for his district.But who has to pay for earmarks with our deficit as high as it is.Veterans ,Seniors and Education.We are hurting with the tax cuts and spending of this Congress.All you have to do to see the pain is look at the 2007 Budget cuts.They will spend but not fund no child left behind.They will spend but cut veterans health care.They will spend but cut Medicare.They will spend but cut programs for the poor.So for the first time I agree with Duckworth cut the earmarks until this country can afford them.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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