Senate lawmakers are set to decide whether to change internal GOP rules and bar Republicans from seeking earmarks. Caucus members will vote on the issue on Nov. 16.
Tea Party-backed Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who believes that earmarks symbolize out-of-control government spending, is waging a battle against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who supports them. Tea Party supporters are strongly opposed to the legislative practice that directs funds to specific projects.
"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," said DeMint, quoted by The Associated Press.
If the GOP Senate caucus votes to eliminate earmarks, the ban would apply only to Republican Senators because the Democrats retained control of the chamber in the midterm elections. Earlier this year, DeMint won backing from 25 Republicans, including McConnell, in a vote to impose an earmark ban on all senators. The bill was defeated by most Democrats and 14 Republicans.
Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who was outspoken against the use of earmarks during his campaign, is a co-sponsor of DeMint's proposal. During a recent interview with CNN, the Tea Party favorite rebuked a Wall Street Journal article that quoted Paul as saying he would support earmarks.
"I never, ever said I would earmark and I will not use the earmark," Paul stressed.