Sen. Jim DeMint, speaking to hundreds gathered outside the Capitol today for a “November Speaks” rally hosted by Americans for Prosperity, said that tomorrow’s Republican Conference vote on an earmark moratorium would be a crucial indicator as to whether members fully understood the message delivered by the American people on Nov. 2.
“If Senate Republicans fail to pass a ban on earmarks tomorrow, obviously they have not gotten the message,” DeMint said. “If we can’t decide as a federal government that it’s not our job to pave local parking lots and build local museums, then we don’t understand what constitutional limited government is.”
Implicit in DeMint’s remarks was a warning to his fellow Republicans. Without naming names, DeMint cautioned that those who continued to support the earmarking process would be help accountable by the American people at the polls. “This is just the beginning,” DeMint said. “2012 is going to make what just happened look small if we continue.”
Phil Kerpen, AFP’s vice president for policy, was more explicit. “They have to ban earmarks,” he said of Senate Republicans. “Any Republican who does not vote to ban earmarks will have a primary challenge.” Kerpen urged the fired-up crowd to “keep the heat on” senators who may be wavering; cries of “They’re next!” were shouted back in response.
It looks like some are starting to get the message. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who previously opposed an earmark moratorium, has just changed sides on the issue, announcing on the Senate floor today that “the people have spoken” and he would join House Republicans in supporting a moratorium on earmarks. Will others like Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma follow suit?
DeMint said he was “optimistic” Senate Republicans have gotten the message and told reporters on a conference call earlier today that “we probably have the edge by a vote or two.”