In advance of tomorrow's Senate Republican conference vote to consider banning earmarks in the next Congress, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell -- a previous earmark supporter -- said today that he was supporting the ban.
"It's not enough to point out the faults of the party in power," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "Americans want change, not mere criticism. And that means that all of us in Washington need to get serious about changing the way we do business, even on things we have defended in the past, perhaps for good reason."
"Make no mistake," he added, "I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don't apologize for them. But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. And unless people like me show the American people that we're willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government."
McConnell's support of the Senate earmark ban -- led by GOP Sen. Jim DeMint -- all but ensures that it will pass tomorrow.
House Republicans this week will vote on their own earmark ban, and it's sure to pass. And President Obama also has called for earmark reform. "I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who've recently said that in these challenging days, we can't afford what are called earmarks," the president said in his weekend address. "These are items inserted into spending bills by members of Congress without adequate review."