WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., revealed a blue dog streak this week, breaking with her party to vote in favor of three Republican-proposed amendments that sought to slash spending measures, including earmarks, from the $410 billion omnibus spending bill.
“I don’t think that we should have duplicative projects,” Klobuchar said Wednesday. “[And] I was concerned about the potential corruption and some of the allegations about these last earmarks [ones that will go to clients of a lobbying firm currently under investigation by the FBI].”
The omnibus bill includes nine 2009 appropriations bills that Congress failed to approve last year. Federal programs are now being funded by a continuing resolution at 2008 fiscal levels. The resolution expires Friday.
The three amendments that Klobuchar voted in favor of are:
* An amendment proposed by Sen. Kay Hutchinson, R-Texas, that sought to limit the overall funding increase above 2008 levels to the rate of inflation. This amendment would have sent the bill back to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where Hutchinson planned to have duplicative spending cut out in the amount of about $12 billion. The amendment was defeated by 55 to 40. Klobuchar was one of five Democrats to vote in favor of the amendment.
* An amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to require competitive bidding for projects funded in the omnibus bill. The amendment was defeated by 57 to 38. Klobuchar was one of six Democrats to vote for the amendment.
* An amendment proposed by Coburn to prohibit taxpayer dollars from being earmarked to 14 clients of the PMA group, a lobbying firm that is under investigation by the FBI for making campaign donations in exchange for political favors. The amendment was defeated by 43 to 52. Klobuchar was one of five Democrats to vote for it.
All the Republican-proposed amendments this week have failed and it is still unclear how Democrats like Klobuchar, who supported making some of the changes, might affect the final passage of the bill.