* Boehner: earmarks symbolize "broken faith" with voters
* House action follows similar Republican move in Senate
(Updates with more details)
WASHINGTON, Nov 18 Republicans in the U.S.
House of Representatives on Thursday adopted a voluntary ban on
pet projects known as earmarks when they take control of the
chamber in January from President Barack Obama's Democrats.
The action came two days after Senate Republicans announced
a voluntary ban, prompting Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid
to say he would allow a vote on a binding moratorium.
Reid made the offer even though he and lawmakers in both
parties have long favored earmarks to deliver a variety of
projects to their home states.
Republicans have now forsworn earmarks as they eye large
spending cuts in the coming year, when they will control the
House and have more clout in the Democratic-led Senate after
November's congressional elections.
"Earmarks have become a symbol of a Congress that has
broken faith with the people," said House Republican Leader
John Boehner, who is set to become the chamber's new speaker in
January, replacing Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
Boehner, who has long opposed earmarks, said the House ban
"shows the American people we are listening and we are dead
serious about ending business as usual in Washington."
Although earmarks account for less than one half of a
percent of the federal budget, they have become a symbol of
wasteful spending for many grassroots "Tea Party" activists who
helped Republicans win big in the Nov. 2 elections.
Earmarks have accounted for roughly $16 billion of the $3.5
trillion federal budget in recent years. Reid and other backers
say they are a way to ensure that Congress maintains some
control over federal spending that otherwise would be managed
by government agencies.
Democrats have sought to rein in earmarks in recent years
after they factored in several corruption scandals, although
they have not backed an outright ban.
An earmark ban could worsen congressional gridlock as they
often serve as sweeteners to build support for the large
spending bills that are needed to keep the government running,
according to Thomas Stratmann, an economics professor at George
Republicans reject such talk and have urged President
Barack Obama, who favors curbing earmarks, to veto any bill
that contains them.
(Reporting by Thomas Ferraro and Andy Sullivan; Editing by