Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, however, has unabashedly defended earmarks, saying through a spokesman that he "makes no apologies."
"It is up to each senator whether or not they will support congressionally directed funding to their state," Reid spokeswoman Regan Lachapelle said. "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."
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had initially demurred on an earmark ban, had a change of heart Monday.
"I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state," McConnell said, acknowledging his new position on the subject. "I don't apologize for them. But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight."
McConnell had come under intense pressure to support a moratorium from a conservative intraparty faction led by Tea Party-favorite Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who first pushed the policy move.
"Just about every new Republican freshman is pushing for the earmark ban," DeMint said Sunday. " I think we'll win the vote because I think most of the Republicans in the Senate have gotten the very clear message from the American people that we need to stop wasteful spending."
Hanging over all of this is that Congress has yet to pass a budget for the next fiscal year.
If lawmakers ultimately vote to temporarily continue the status quo -- funding the government at last year's levels into the new year -- they won't be able to add on any new pork the way they could with a new funding bill.