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 CoburnFreedom Caucus saved Paul Ryan's job: GOP has promises to keep Don't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential MORE (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.), Mike EnziMike EnziTrump should work with Congress to block regulations on prepaid cards GOP wrestles with big question: What now? Top Dem: Trump's State Dept. cuts a 'Ponzi scheme' MORE (Wyo.) and John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's 12:30 Report Overnight Defense: US moving missile defense system to South Korea | Dems want justification for Syria strike | Army pick pushes back against critics of LGBT record Disconnect: Trump, GOP not on same page MORE (Texas) and senators-elect Pat Toomey (Pa.), Marco RubioMarco RubioWhat’s with Trump’s spelling mistakes? Boeing must be stopped from doing business with Iran Top Trump officials push border wall as government shutdown looms MORE (Fla.), Rand PaulRand PaulDestructive 'fat cat' tax law a complete flop. It's time to repeal it. Trump must take action in Macedonia to fix damage done by Obama and Clinton We can put America first by preventing public health disasters MORE (Ky.), Mike LeeMike LeeTrump signs order to end 'egregious abuse' of national monuments Trump takes aim at Obama monuments Trump should work with Congress to block regulations on prepaid cards MORE (Utah), Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonTrump should work with Congress to block regulations on prepaid cards Five reasons to worry about the ShadowBrokers hack Border Patrol could drop polygraph requirement for new agents: report MORE (Wis.) and Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteBottom Line How Gorsuch's confirmation shapes the next Supreme Court battle THE MEMO: Trump set to notch needed win with Gorsuch 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 McConnellMcConnell warns Dems: No 'poison pills' in funding measure UN contacted Trump administration on ObamaCare repeal: report Congress nears deal on help for miners 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 McCaskillGOP senator: Trump’s wall a ‘metaphor’ for securing border Progressives set to declare victory on Gorsuch, one way or the other Republican offers bill in response to Marines nude-photo-sharing scandal 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.