DeMint: Earmark vote will test lawmakers' grasp of the election

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said the vote on whether or not to ban earmarks will be the first test as to whether members fully grasp the lessons of the midterm elections.  

The Republican Conference is scheduled to vote on the ban at their weekly meeting Tuesday.

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"If we can't decide as a federal government that it's not our job to pave local parking lots and build local museums then we don't understand what constitutional limited government is," DeMint said at a Tea Party rally just outside the Capital Monday. "If the Senate Republicans fail to pass a ban on earmarks tomorrow, obviously they have not gotten the message."

The debate over the proposed ban, led by DeMint and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has already exposed fissures among Republicans in the Senate.

DeMint hinted Monday that Republicans who aren't supportive of the ban could face trouble if they have to face voters in two years, but said he's confident the ban will win approval on Tuesday, led by the newly-elected crop of GOP Senators.

"2012 is going to make what just happened look small if we continue what we started," DeMint predicted. 

Voters listed a reduction in spending as one of their top concerns this election cycle; several Republican candidates ran successful campaigns based on that issue.

DeMint entered the gathering Monday, sponsored by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, to shouts of "DeMint for president," eliciting a broad smile from the South Carolina Republican.  

Through his Senate Conservatives Fund, DeMint helped raised several million dollars for Tea Party backed candidates in 2010 and played a leading role in several high-profile GOP primary fights.

On the House side, presumed Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and likely Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced they will hold a vote among House Republicans to ban earmarks, one of the proposals outlined in their "Pledge with America" released earlier this year.