Sen. DeMint lining up votes for earmark ban

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is trying to marshal support for a ban on earmarks by Republican senators during the 112th Congress.

DeMint will force a secret ballot vote on his moratorium proposal next week. Spokesman Wesley Denton said DeMint expects the measure to pass the caucus, although it won’t have the force of law. 

DeMint issued a statement Tuesday that named 10 Republican senators who are publicly backing the earmark suspension. The list included Sens. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnMr. President, let markets help save Medicare Pension insolvency crisis only grows as Congress sits on its hands Paul Ryan should realize that federal earmarks are the currency of cronyism MORE (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziHouse panel to mark up 2019 budget Overnight Defense: Top general defends Afghan war progress | VA shuffles leadership | Pacific Command gets new leader, name | Pentagon sued over HIV policy Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (Wyo.) and John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis Dem plays audio from child detention center on Senate floor MORE (Texas) and senators-elect Pat Toomey (Pa.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDem scores upset over Republican in Florida county commissioner race GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee MORE (Fla.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate passes 6B defense bill This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP MORE (Ky.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Another chance to seek the return of fiscal sanity to the halls of Congress Trump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril MORE (Utah), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate probes FBI's heavy-handed use of redactions to obstruct congressional investigators Hillicon Valley: DHS gets new cyber chief | White House warns lawmakers not to block ZTE deal | White nationalists find home on Google Plus | Comcast outbids Disney for Fox | Anticipation builds for report on FBI Clinton probe Graham jokes about Corker: GOP would have to be organized to be a cult MORE (Wis.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteErnst, Fischer to square off for leadership post The Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP Audit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars MORE (N.H.).

Elected members of the 112th Congress will be able to vote on the proposal, but it is unclear which, if any, of those newly elected members will be present for the ballot. 

The earmark vote pits DeMint, a favorite of the Tea Party, against GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWarren on family separation policy: Trump is ‘taking America to a dark and ugly place’ Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis Schumer rejects GOP proposal to address border crisis MORE (R-Ky.), who has argued a ban would do little to control spending while weakening congressional authority.

“The earmark debate is really about executive branch versus legislative branch discretion,” McConnell said in an interview with The Hill this summer. “Are you going to give 100 percent discretion to the president? Are you going to retain some for yourself? 

“[An earmark ban] saves no money. The money is saved in the overall aggregate. … I’m in favor of spending less. I’m not in favor of giving any president 100 percent discretion over what we do spend — this one, or any other,” McConnell said.

DeMint has tried and failed several times to pass an earmark moratorium through the full Senate, most notably this past March, when the Senate voted 68-29 against a two-year ban.

Twenty-four Republicans, a majority of the GOP caucus, supported DeMint’s move at the time, along with Democratic Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillHillicon Valley: Verizon, AT&T call off data partnerships after pressure | Tech speaks out against Trump family separation policy | T-Mobile, Sprint make case for B merger Senators introduce bipartisan bill to detect supply chain risks posing threats to national security Manchin becomes final Democrat to back bill preventing separation of immigrant families MORE (Mo.), Russ Feingold (Wis.) and Ted Kaufman (Del.)

House Republicans passed an earmark ban this year in their caucus, and GOP Whip Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election Scalise allies upset over Ryan blindside on McCarthy endorsement MORE (Va.) is considering an extension when the party assumes power in the chamber next year. 

DeMint also plans to push for an amendment by Cornyn that would establish a caucus policy of supporting a congressional balanced budget amendment while requiring a supermajority to raise taxes. 

"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. "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.