By Vicki Needham - 11/09/10 09:52 PM EST
As McConnell tries to gin up support for keeping earmarks, he might have gained an unlikely ally in newly elected Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Paul has voiced strong opposition to the practice, but he told The Wall Street Journal over that weekend that while earmarks are a bad “symbol” of easy spending he will fight for Kentucky’s share of earmarks and federal pork as long as it’s doled out transparently at the committee level and not parachuted in during the dead of night.
“I will advocate for Kentucky’s interests,” he said.
Paul's possible change of policy runs counter to that of South Carolina Jim DeMint, who's trying to shore up support for a Senate moratorium. DeMint has been collecting signatures of those who support a ban.
Earmarks typically amount to about 1 percent of the discretionary part of the federal budget — $15.9 billion in fiscal year 2010.
"This debate doesn't save any money," McConnell said, "which is why it's kind of exasperating to go some of us who really want to cut spending."
House Republican leaders are backing a moratorium and President Obama has voiced his support for the ban.