Senate Republicans torn over return of earmarks

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), during a recent interview with Fox News, signaled that members of his caucus would take a hard line, saying earmarks were “very unpopular among Republicans.”

“I think we’re very unenthusiastic. There may be some Republicans interested in that sort of what’s called congressionally directed spending. It doesn’t enjoy much support among Republicans,” McConnell said.

McConnell was previously a proponent of earmarks but warned that, speaking for the entire caucus, there was now broad opposition. The Senate GOP banned earmarks in 2010 with Democrats following suit in 2011 amid pressure from then-President Obama and House Republicans who, amid a rise in concern about the deficit, had homed in on the pet projects.

McConnell’s assessment is backed up by conservatives in the caucus, who are warning their colleagues against embracing what they view as wasteful spending. The caucus voted in 2019 to permanently ban earmarks after a previous moratorium expired.