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 CoburnTom Coburn'Path of least resistance' problematic for Congress Freedom Caucus saved Paul Ryan's job: GOP has promises to keep Don't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC MORE (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.), Mike EnziMike EnziFive takeaways from Trump's first budget proposal Eliminate Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 to create jobs Trump releases budget that slashes government programs MORE (Wyo.) and John CornynJohn CornynRepublicans give Trump's budget the cold shoulder Pavlich: Politicizing the FBI GOP senators knock Trump's budget proposal MORE (Texas) and senators-elect Pat Toomey (Pa.), Marco RubioMarco RubioRubio: 'All options should be on table' if Flynn refuses new subpoenas Rubio ‘not optimistic’ on Middle East peace DHS extends protected status for Haitians for six months MORE (Fla.), Rand PaulRand PaulOvernight Defense: Trump budget gets thumbs down from hawks | UK raises threat level after Manchester attack | Paul to force vote on 0B Saudi arms deal Paul plans to force vote on 0B Saudi defense deal Sheriff Clarke denies plagiarism report, calls reporter a 'sleaze bag' MORE (Ky.), Mike LeeMike LeeOvernight Tech: FCC won't fine Colbert over Trump joke | Trump budget slashes science funding | Net neutrality comment period opens Overnight Healthcare: Divisions emerge in Senate over preexisting conditions The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Utah), Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonDivisions emerge in the Senate on pre-existing conditions Health groups push FDA not to repeal e-cig rules Senate GOP short on ideas for stabilizing ObamaCare markets MORE (Wis.) and Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteWeek ahead: Comey firing dominates Washington GOP senators pitch Merrick Garland for FBI director Kelly Ayotte among candidates to be FBI director: report 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 McConnellMitch McConnellRepublicans give Trump's budget the cold shoulder Senate GOP focused on killing Medicaid expansion Hearing highlights GOP divide over border tax 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 McCaskillTechnology's role in human trafficking cannot be ignored Five things to know about Joe Lieberman Senate GOP short on ideas for stabilizing ObamaCare markets 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 CantorTrump nominates two new DOD officials Brat: New ObamaCare repeal bill has 'significant' changes Overnight Energy: Flint lawmaker pushes EPA for new lead rule 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.