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In about-face, McConnell will join DeMint in voting to end earmarks

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. That seems to be the course of action that Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has just taken in his standoff with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and the Tea Party over earmarks. Delivering remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell just announced that he’s going to join forces with DeMint in calling for a two-year moratorium on the practice:

I have thought about these things long and hard over the past few weeks. I’ve talked with my members. I’ve listened to them. Above all, I have listened to my constituents. And what I’ve concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example. Nearly every day that the Senate’s been in session for the past two years, I have come down to this spot and said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.

Make no mistake. I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. 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. And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.

That’s why 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.

The vote on earmarks tomorrow is a pretty small, symbolic issue, compared to other fissures that will doubtless arise between the GOP establishment and Tea Party-backed candidates. The question is whether this is a relatively small bone McConnell figured he could throw the Tea Party, or whether it’s a sign of a whole lot more capitulating to the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party to come.

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