In a 35-to-64 vote, the Senate rejected an amendment by GOP Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana to remove all 4,400 pet projects from the bill. Overall, 16 Republicans joined with 49 Senate Democrats to strike down the amendment, which only needed a simple 51-vote majority to pass.
“This bill has 367 pages of earmarks,” said Mr. Braun. “I’m against earmarks because I believe they lead to waste and abuse. That’s why Congress got rid of them 10 years ago. They should not have been allowed back.”
Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, defended the use of earmarks: “I know the Constitution vests the power of the purse in Congress. Certifications of these earmarks have been available to the public … for eight months. Everybody knows what’s here.”
Mr. Leahy’s GOP counterpart on the appropriations panel, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, joined Democrats in voting against the amendment. Also crossing the floor were members of the GOP leadership, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Policy Committee Chairman Roy Blunt of Missouri.
Also voting against were: Republican Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi and Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Mike Rounds of South Dakota also voted to keep the earmarks.
The only Democrat to back gutting earmarks from the budget was Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.
Mr. Biden’s 2,741-page budget bill is the first time that earmarks have returned to Congress since 2011. That year tea party Republicans emboldened by their sweep of the House banned the practice. Senate Republicans followed suit when they took control of their chamber in 2014.
Last year, when Democrats regained control of both branches of Congress, albeit with a razor-thin majority, they brought the practice back. Democrats and Republicans were quick to utilize it when crafting the first budget deal of Mr. Biden’s young presidency.
Alaska Republicans, for instance, have inserted a provision into the bill appropriating $10 million to tear down an abandoned hotel in the city of Fairbanks. Rhode Island Democrats, meanwhile, have secured $1.6 million for Roger Williams University to develop an “equitable growth of shellfish aquaculture industry” in the state.
Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who led the Democratic opposition to the amendment, scored more than $258 million in earmarks for his constitutes in New York.