After adopting a ban on earmarks in the Senate GOP conference, Republicans in the Senate are now pushing their colleagues in the other party to embrace a three-year moratorium as well. Democrats up for reelection in 2012 will feel the most pressure to sign on to the ban as earmarks have become a popular, populist symbol of government corruption.
So far the reaction is mixed, according to a report in The Hill Wednesday. Senators are taking a look, and at 67 votes for passage the ban appears to have a steep climb. For freshmen like Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDemocrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Senators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal Senate chaos threatens to slow Biden's agenda MORE (D-Del.), the prospect of not bringing home the bacon is particularly challenging. "I haven't come to a final position on it, but in the campaign what I said was that as long as other states' members are fighting for and getting money for infrastructure needs, then I will support a transparent, fair, congressionally-directed earmark process," Coons told The Hill.


Several GOP veterans have come out against the ban, including Sens. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranBottom line Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Hyde-Smith fends off challenge from Espy in Mississippi MORE (R-Miss.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Senate confirms Austin to lead Pentagon under Biden Justice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges MORE (R-Okla.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) who argue that allowing the administration to direct all federal spending is an abdication of the legislative branch's power of the purse.
Just days after Republicans passed their own ban, which resulted from a push by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and new Tea Party-backed freshman senators, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) scored a $200 million settlement for an Arizona tribe's water-rights claim against the federal government, according to The Huffington Post. Kyl's office stated the provision is not an earmark, while Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDemocrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee Democrats swear in three senators to gain majority MORE (D-Vt.) came to the floor to declare: "I do know an earmark when I see it. And this, my friends, is an earmark."
According to the report in The Hill, earmarks accounted for $15.9 billion in spending in 2010, but the co-chairman of President Obama's debt commission have estimated that tax legislation contains $1.1 trillion in earmarks.
Ban or no ban, earmarking will remain in the eye of the beholder. And in order to reduce our deficits, more cuts of consequence must be agreed upon.

HOW MANY GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES WILL AGREE TO DEMINT'S PROPOSAL TO BAN ETHANOL SUBSIDIES? AskAB returns next week. Please send your questions and comments to Thank you.