GOP Senators Rule Out Earmarks for 112th Congress

Conservatives made their presence felt in Washington: the Senate Republican Conference voted to ban earmarks for the 112th Congress.

When earmark moratoriums were considered as part of other issues, the Senate GOP generally opposed them, but in the past reformers lacked the necessary votes. With a stronger majority in the next Congress, Republican Senators faced a decision: follow through with an earmark moratorium, or return to the spending practices that characterized their last majority. When Senator DeMint began circulating his proposal, many Senators refused to take a public position on the rule vote. As conservative Senators and conservative activists pushed the issue, the GOP establishment began to get on board. Senator McConnell’s Monday announcement of his support sealed the deal.

Two important forces made this happen, and mark a change for the next Congress:

  1. Conservative Freshman Senators: notably, early in the effort, the majority of the freshman Senators signed onto Senator DeMint’s letter. These Senators are fresh from electoral politics, and are in the closest touch with their constituents. Their immediate support of the earmarks moratorium signaled the importance of taking real conservative positions in the new Senate. Look for this group to continue moving the Republican Conference when they solidify around a policy.
  2. Conservative Activists: a variety of conservative activist groups, including Heritage Action, pushed their networks to call and otherwise support Senator DeMint’s proposal. This immediate, coordinated mobilization of thousands of committed activists across the country sealed the deal. This network connected the anti-spending sentiment with an actionable policy–and Senators got the message.

We at Heritage Action are excited about both new forces, especially our conservative activists. Their phone calls and call reports enabled us to help push the earmarks moratorium. The next Congress could be shaped not by Washington insiders, but by the American people. And that is exciting.

Stay tuned to Heritage Action as the fight against earmarks and other wasteful spending practices continues.

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