Murkowski, Inhofe, Cochran may defy GOP's ban on earmarks; Update: GOP passes earmarks ban

I know what you’re thinking, but forget about primarying them for now. Cochran’s a state institution — he’s been in the Senate for 32 years — and he’s not up again until 2014. Neither is Inhofe, who’ll have a pretty good defense to the charge of RINOism if/when the tea party comes looking for him in a few years.

As for Lena Maloney, we all know the situation, alas. In fact, between this and her dumping on Palin yesterday, she’s pretty much in full spike-the-ball gloat mode these days, isn’t she? Remember that time Terrell Owens scored two TDs and celebrated by dancing on the star at midfield in Cowboys Stadium? Dude, she’s dancing on the elephant logo.

“I don’t think so,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said when asked if she would comply with the resolution. Murkowski said the ban is merely “about messaging” and would give a misleading impression of taking on the deficit. “I don’t think it is being straight up with the public,” she said.

Appropriations ranking member Thad Cochran, R-Miss., would not commit to complying with a ban resolution, saying he would see “what other options” are available. And Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said he was unlikely to honor the ban. He introduced legislation Monday to change the earmarking process, including barring congressional aides from participating in fundraising activities; creating a new database of all earmarks; giving the Government Accountability Office the power to randomly audit earmarks; and requiring lawmakers to certify that a recipient of an earmark is qualified to handle the project being funded…

However, in a Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll taken right before the August recess, funneling money back home was the only factor a majority of the public cited as being a factor in their support for a congressional candidate. The survey, conducted with the Pew Research Center, showed that 53 percent of the public said they were more likely to vote for the person on the ballot who had brought government projects and money to their home district.

Per that last bit, Harry Reid called DeMint’s ban a “tremendous step backwards” but Claire McCaskill, who’s facing a reddening state in her reelection bid in 2012, is joining with Coburn to demand a full Senate vote on banning earmarks this term. Can’t wait to see whether there are more nervous Blue Dogs willing to join with the GOP than there are Republican porkers willing to join with Reid.

As for Murky et al., are there any disciplinary options here for defying the caucus resolution? I’d suggest stripping people of committee leadership assignments, but why bother? We all know the caucus is too gutless for that.

Update: To no one’s surprise, the caucus passed the ban. And they did it via a “voice vote,” which means we don’t get to find out how each individual member voted. Sad, but true to form.