Fresh off the tea party's show of election might, GOP Sen. Jim DeMint said Tuesday he'll force a showdown next week with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other old-guard Republicans over “earmarked” pet projects that DeMint and other victors last week made a symbol of out-of-control deficit spending.The earmarks help with jobs. They also help provide money for much-needed projects like bridges.
The South Carolina Republican is optimistic he'll win a change in internal GOP rules to effectively bar any Republican from seeking earmarks.
“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.
DeMint won backing from 25 Senate Republicans, including McConnell, earlier this year to impose an earmark ban on Republicans and Democrats alike. But the proposal was easily defeated by Democrats and 14 pro-earmark Republicans. Thirty-three of 41 Senate Republicans then sought earmarks in this year's unfinished roster of spending bills.
McConnell, however, isn't enthusiastic about the idea of a ban now. And he finds himself caught in the middle of a battle dividing his party and opening it to criticism from tea party activists who helped Republicans take back the House and elect several anti-earmark senators.
House Republicans already have such a rule in place and are about to renew it, but both House and Senate Democrats are strongly opposed.
Earmarks include road and bridge projects, grants to local police departments and community development projects, among many, many others.[...]
But the newcomers are running into a phalanx of old school Republicans who defend the practice. They argue that they know the needs of their states better than Washington bureaucrats and that earmarks totaled only about one-half of 1 percent of the $3.5 trillion 2010 federal budget, about $16 billion.
I've met both Senators Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning when they presented checks at Northern Kentucky University. Don't worry...I dressed down for Jim Bunning, who wasn't even able to really answer a question about the Hall of Fame.