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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid issued a lengthy and passionate defense of earmarks, those line-item pet projects for individual lawmakers or districts that both chambers of Congress jettisoned several years ago.

“I am one of the kings of earmarks,” the Nevada Democrat, who is retiring at the end of the year, unabashedly told reporters Wednesday. “I think it was a terrible idea, a disservice to America to come up with this stupid idea, stupid idea to stop congressional directed spending – of course we should be doing it.”

House Republicans this week are considering a proposal to bring back earmarks during its biannual reconsideration of internal rules. The leadership in both parties tend to support the practices because it gives them leverage over rank-and-file members and help persuade them to vote for certain bills.

But fiscal conservatives and ethics groups oppose the practice after several high-profile corruption scandals and allegations of self-dealing involving the practice several years ago.

Majority Whip Jon Cornyn, D-Texas, said he didn’t expect any changes to the earmark in the Senate despite the House effort to resurrect the practice.

“I don’t think a change in the Senate conference rules are in the offing so I expect [it] will continue,” Cornyn said.

Reid went on to say that he’s “never apologized to anybody” for supporting the earmark practice. “I go home and I boast about earmarks, and that’s what everybody should do.”

“It’s a way we get things done around here,” he said. “It’s the way it’s been done for centuries. And all of a sudden somebody comes up with the bright idea that all the government agencies and the White House can do it better than we can? They can’t. We have a Constitutional obligation to do congressional-directed spending.”

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