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Reid defends earmarks, threatens work until Jan. 5

From NBC's Doug Adams
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate mics Thursday afternoon to defend the practice of earmarks, saying it was Congress's constitutional right to spend money and vowing to fight for that right against both Republicans and the executive branch.

"I am convinced that I don't want to give up more power to White House - whether it's George Bush or Barack Obama," Reid said. "And I'm going to fight as hard as I can against President Obama on these earmarks; and my Republican colleagues who hate to vote for them, but love to get them."

Brandishing a copy of the Constitution as a prop, Reid accused conservative Republicans who oppose the earmark process of failing to understand Congress's constitutional power of the purse.

And he accused those critics of hypocrisy for sometimes claiming credit for projects in their home states after voting against the funding bills that contain earmarks. "You can look it up. But I bet if you went to "H" in the dictionary, and find "hypocrite" -- under that would be people who ask for earmarks but vote against them," said the Nevada senator.

Reid reiterated his threat to keep the Senate in session into January if necessary, charging that Republicans have obstructed progress on bills to fund the government, repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, and ratify the START treaty.

"We are in session, if necessary, up to January 5th. That is the clock our Republican colleagues need to run out," he said. "It's a long clock."

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