DeMint will lead push for earmark moratorium in Senate GOP

Eleven GOP senators will push colleagues to adopt an earmark moratorium for the next two years in a closed-doors vote next week.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) will lead an initiative to put a two-year ban on earmarking, a practice by which a lawmaker can direct funding in legislation to a specific project or initiative.

A total of 11 senators in the next Congress — including six senators-elect — will look to match the moratorium that House Republicans have adopted.

"Americans want Congress to shut down the earmark favor factory, and next week I believe House and Senate Republicans will unite to stop pork barrel spending," DeMint said in a statement. "Instead of spending time chasing money for pet projects, lawmakers will be able to focus on balancing the budget, reforming the tax code and repealing the costly health care takeover."

The vote will be an early test of DeMint's new influence in the Senate, with many of the conservative candidates that he had supported in primaries joining his anti-earmark initiative. Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) will support the measure, as will Sens.-elect Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).

A simple majority of Republicans are needed to adopt the moratorium, and 46 senators will likely be on hand, because the outcome of Alaska's Senate race has not yet been determined.

Earmarks have long drawn criticism from conservatives like DeMint and reformers like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), But other conservatives — such as Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) — claim a constitutional prerogative in the practice.