As expected, the Senate Republican conference passed an earmark moratorium resolution this afternoon. It’s non-binding, but expresses the view of the full GOP caucus.
Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill are pressing to make the ban statutory. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t wild about the idea, but he promised to work with both members to bring the issue up for a vote in the Senate.
The GOP conference also approved a balanced budget resolution authored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).
Even if the incoming Congress includes no earmarks in its spending bills, the budgetary impact will be zero. The earmarks themselves only direct how some of the money appropriated by Congress must be spent.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had opposed the earmark ban, but ultimately had his hand forced by the will of his caucus, led by tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).
President Obama took the opportunity to rib McConnell in a statement “welcoming” the GOP leader to the club. “I welcome Senator McConnell’s decision to join me and members of both parties who support cracking down on wasteful earmark spending, which we can’t afford during these tough economic times,” Obama said. “As a Senator, I helped eliminate anonymous earmarks, and as President, I’ve called for new limitations on earmarks and set new, higher standards of transparency and accountability.”
More on the moratorium here.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.