Earmark Fight Brewing Within GOP

The earmarks issue highlights a larger divide within the Republican party.

ByABC News
November 15, 2010, 9:00 AM

Nov. 15, 2010— -- When Congress returns to work Monday, a group of Republican senators is going to immediately embark on a controversial effort to ban earmarks, those pet projects that lawmakers tack on to legislation, in an effort to help their home states.

But turning campaign season momentum against earmarks, into a full-scale ban, is easier said than done.

Leading the anti-pork charge is Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, who this week called on his GOP colleagues to vote next Tuesday to change party rules and ban earmarks.

"Republicans will never be able to stand up to the big-spending policies being pushed by President Obama and congressional Democrats if we're addicted to pork," DeMint said. "And, we're never going to be able to get the American people to give us a second chance if we don't lead by example and stop business as usual."

DeMint said 13 other GOP senators have pledged to support the earmark moratorium, including a number of newly-elected members. The 13 senators are Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, John Ensign of Nevada, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

On Tuesday the Senate Republican Conference will vote on whether or not to change internal GOP rules to ban party members from seeking earmarks. But winning the anti-earmark battle will be far from easy.

The earmarks issue highlights a larger divide within the Republican party. While Tea Party-aligned members such as DeMint vigorously support the ban, old guard members like the Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell oppose it.