Senate GOP Approves Earmark Ban and Spending Cuts

Senate Republicans wrapped up a closed door conference meeting Tuesday after just 45 minutes, approving by near-unanimous consent a two-year ban on earmarks, as expected. The lone dissenting voice - Sen Jim Inhofe, R-Okla, according to Sen Lindsey Graham, R-SC.

"It was extremely boring," Graham joked with reporters afterward, almost relieved along with many of his colleagues that there was no bloody fight against the ban.

In addition to the ban, authored by Sen Jim DeMint, R-SC, Republicans unanimously supported a last-minute add, a resolution by Sen GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., which called on Democrats to support a similar moratorium.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., made his opposition clear on Tuesday, telling reporters, "I think it's a tremendous step backward. It just gives more power to the executive. I am not one that believes in that. I think we have three separate and equal branches of government, and I think they should be equal in power...I am not in favor of delegating my constitutional responsibilities to the White House."

The conference also unanimously approved a resolution by Sen John Thune, R-SD, that would trim non-defense discretionary spending back to 2008 levels, offering an estimated savings of $450 billion, according to the senator.