Will DeMint’s earmark moratorium pass?
My story today highlights how Tea Party pressure is making it harder for Republican senators to sit on the sidelines in the lead-up to Tuesday’s Senate Republican Conference showdown over a moratorium on earmarks being pushed by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) — and opposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Politico’s Manu Raju has a story on the vote as well, in which he attempts to count Senate votes and determines that with 14 definite votes in favor of DeMint’s plan and 13 senators strongly against it, it’s likely that the vote, which needs the support of 24 Republican senators to pass, will come down to the wire.
Who are some of the senators who are still wavering? Raju collects some of their comments:
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference who voted for the ban in March, said he’s “going to go at every angle possible to cut spending and limit the debt.”
Asked if that meant he’d vote for the DeMint proposal, Barrasso told POLITICO: “I want to see everything that comes up. I don’t know how many different proposals we’re going to have.”
Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the No. 2 GOP senator in leadership, won’t make any earmark requests this year and didn’t last year. But his spokesman said the senator would wait until next week to view all the ideas on the table before taking a position on the moratorium.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a prospective 2012 presidential candidate and No. 4 in GOP leadership, has “supported in the past and continues to support an earmark moratorium,” a spokesman said. But it’s unclear if that means he’ll back DeMint’s plan on Tuesday.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who voted for the ban in March, said through a spokeswoman that he had just received the plan and was still reviewing it.
It’s clear from the quotes above and a review of the senators’ past records that their stance on requesting earmarks is only one part of the equation in their decision-making process about whether to speak their mind before Tuesday’s vote. Kyl, for instance, is no friend of earmarks, but he’s also a part of Republican leadership. A number of senators are clearly weighing the cost of openly defying McConnell against the cost of appearing to disavow the desires of the Tea Party.