Tea Party activists made a Republican pledge to ban earmarks (a.k.a. pork-barrel spending) in the 112th Congress their first cause since the election, and it seems that they have won. On Monday afternoon Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he was supporting the amendment when the Senate Republican caucus votes on Tuesday.
In a speech subtitled “The People Have Spoken—I’m Listening,” McConnell wrote, “I will join the Republican Leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress.” His surprisingly long statement was filled, though, with defensiveness and backhanded references to prior opposition. He defended his past earmarks, saying, “I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them.” And he called the ban “small but important symbolic step,” a reference to his earlier position that that banning earmarks is irrelevant because it accounts for so much less than the total federal debt.