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Sen. DeMint lining up votes for earmark ban

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 CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnDemocrats step up hardball tactics in Supreme Court fight COVID response shows a way forward on private gun sale checks Inspector general independence must be a bipartisan priority in 2020 MORE (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziLummis adopts 'laser eyes' meme touting Bitcoin Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes With Senate at stake, Georgia is on all our minds MORE (Wyo.) and John CornynJohn CornynProgressive support builds for expanding lower courts McConnell backs Garland for attorney general Garland seeks to draw sharp contrast with Trump-era DOJ MORE (Texas) and senators-elect Pat Toomey (Pa.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary DeSantis easily defeats Rubio, Scott in hypothetical presidential primary: poll MORE (Fla.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary Hillicon Valley: Biden to take 'executive action' to address SolarWinds breach | Facebook and Google respond to Australian proposed law | DOJ charges North Korean hackers with stealing .3 billion in cryptocurrency MORE (Ky.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Health Care: US surpasses half a million COVID deaths | House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill | Johnson & Johnson ready to provide doses for 20M Americans by end of March 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' Lee after Romney's impeachment vote: There's enough room in GOP 'for both of us' MORE (Utah), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTop cops deflect blame over Capitol attack NRSC chair Scott calls for party unity: 'The Republican Civil War is now cancelled' GOP senator raises uncorroborated claims about 'provocateurs,' 'fake Trump supporters' at Capitol riot hearing MORE (Wis.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteOvernight Defense: NATO expanding troops in Iraq Overnight Defense: New START extended for five years | Austin orders 'stand down' to tackle extremism | Panel recommends Biden delay Afghanistan withdrawal Study group recommends Biden delay Afghanistan withdrawal MORE (N.H.).

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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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general Trump to attend private RNC donor retreat The Patriot Party already exists — it's the Democrats 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.

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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 Conner McCaskillThe Memo: Punish Trump or risk a repeat, warn Democrats GOP senators criticized for appearing to pay half-hearted attention to trial Hawley watches trial from visitor's gallery 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 Ivan CantorConservative House Republican welcomes Clark as chief of US Chamber Former House GOP leader: Fear of telling 'truth' to voters led to Capitol riot Biden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation 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.