Congress had been back in session for only a few hours today when the new class of tea party senators who aren’t seated yet, but are in town for orientation achieved their first victory over the establishment GOP leadership: a likely self-imposed earmark ban. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Minority Leader, had opposed the ban, since providing his state with pork ($113 million from 58 separate earmarks last year) made him a popular senator. But while earmarks don’t really account for very much of the federal budget a whopping one fifth of one percent they’ve become a symbol of the Out of Control Government that the tea party ran against this year, and South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, the de facto tea party leader in the Senate, seemed to have the votes lined up. So earlier this afternoon on the Senate floor, McConnell jumped onboard, even while admitting the ban was largely a “symbolic thing.”
Of course, the Democrats are still in the majority in the Senate, and have made no such commitments — although, vaguely, President Obama expressed support for “addressing” earmarks over the weekend — so earmarks may not exactly be on their deathbed yet. But at the least, the Republicans will be able to live with themselves. And, it appears for now, with each other.
Mitch McConnell reverses; backs earmark ban [Politico]