Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, is expected to force a vote in the Senate as early as this week on a one year ban on earmarks, a ban recently floated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, to her Democratic colleagues, as first reported by Roll Call.
DeMint, late last year before debate wrapped on the Democrats' healthcare bill, unsuccessfully employed a tactic he is likely to try once again, according to a senior Senate GOP aide, by first forcing a vote to suspend the Senate rules in the midst of debate over the Democrats' jobs bill. To win, DeMint must garner the support of two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes if all 100 senators are present and voting. If DeMint can get over this high hurdle, he would then get an up or down vote on his amendment.
DeMint, chairman of the conservative GOP Senate Steering Committee, said, "“Nancy Pelosi and I don’t agree on many things, but if she’s willing to take a stand for taxpayers, I’ll work with her to put an end to the earmark favor factory...The Senate will have the opportunity this week to stand with Americans and put a stop to this wasteful spending."
Of course, all of this comes at a time when House Democrats are embroiled in a number of ethics investigations and scandals, including a sizeable inquiry into the actions of one of that chamber's most senior members, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-NY, which resulted in his temporary leave as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
This could be a difficult vote for Democrats in Congress, as they know all too well what ethics scandals can do in a crucial midterm election year. In 2006, in the wake of the Jack Abramoff ethics scandal which ensnared numerous Republican members, Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress by promising to "drain the swamp."
DeMint could, therefore, be offering this legislation at a difficult time for Democrats, even as President Obama beat back special provisions for Nebraska and Florida in Congress' healthcare reform effort.
"We need to focus on balancing the budget, not pork barrel spending that has wasted money on bridges to nowhere, teapot museums, and monuments to politicians,” DeMint said.