Obama applauds McConnell for backing earmark ban

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had a different take on the growing popularity of the ban. 

"It is up to each senator whether or not they will support congressionally directed funding to their state." Reid spokesman Jim Manley said today. "From delivering $100 million in military projects for Nevada to funding education and public transportation projects in the state, Sen. Reid makes no apologies for delivering for the people of Nevada. He will always fight to ensure the state's needs are met."

Earlier today, McConnell announced he will join a GOP effort to ban congressional earmarks.

McConnell, who is one of the Senate's biggest proponents of earmarks, said he determined he needed to lead by example on the earmark front, a battle largely waged up until now by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). The effort to ban earmarks has been picking up steam with Republicans and some Democrats in both chambers. 

He has been said he didn't want to shift matters of spending to the executive branch at the same time arguing that an earmark ban won't do much to reduce the federal deficit and that there are larger spending issues to manage. 

"We should not mislead Americans by saying an earmark ban will do much to reduce the federal debt," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. 

"Cleaning up earmarks is good short-term policy, but as long-term policy it would undermine the Constitution because instead of placing a check on the president, it turns the checkbook over to him," he said.  

But he did say the moratorium "will help put the spotlight on executive branch earmarks," which in 2008 during President George W. Bush's administration, spent more than congressional earmarks.

Earlier today, House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) called on the president to review executive branch earmarks "so that we can begin to rebuild the public trust that has been eroded by wasteful and egregious earmarks.”

A vote on a ban is expected by secret ballot on Tuesday, but Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is pushing for a floor vote on Wednesday if senators fail to move forward with DeMint's voluntary ban. 

J.T. Rushing contributed to this story.