McConnell Changes Tune, Supports Earmark Moratorium

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Nov 15, 2010 2:31 PM
Upcoming votes on earmarks were going to illustrate the a massive divide between the conservative grassroots and the House GOP establishment, until Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came out in support of the earmark ban this afternoon. McConnell had recently explained that "this debate [on earmarks] doesn't save any money, which is why it's kind of exasperating,” but on Monday, he changed his tune.
Today I am announcing that I will join the Republican Leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress.

I’m not wild about turning over more spending authority to the executive branch, but I have come to share the view of most Americans that our nation is at a crossroads; that we will not be able to secure the kind of future we want for our children and grandchildren unless we act, and act quickly; and that only way we will be able to turn the corner and save our future is if elected leaders like me make the kinds of difficult decisions voters are clearly asking us to make.
This means that the GOP Senate conference is all but united on the issue of earmarks, with the notable exception of Sen. Jim Inhofe.  That’s unlikely to affect the conference vote, and will probably not affect the larger Senate vote.

“Our country is in the greatest difficulty of my lifetime, and perhaps the greatest difficulty in the history of our country,” said Coburn, during a conference call with reporters. “For us to defend a process that takes our eyes off the real problem so we can defend our own interest is an untenable position for a politician to be in.”

DeMint echoed Coburn’s sentiments during the call.

“Sixty-two percent of all Americans believe that earmarks are just wasteful,” said DeMint. “It’s not a matter of the total amount. The way I look at is that earmarks are the cause of big spending.”

Even before McConnell's statement this afternoon, it was becoming increasingly clear that Coburn and DeMint were gaining wider support for their earmarks push. McConnell undoubtedly felt like he was losing the battle, and responded to the demands of his caucus. A big pat on the back should also be given to tea party activists, who made earmarks into something of a pet issue throughout the past year.