As for the chamber’s more entrenched Members, DeMint argues that their opposition — both public and private — is motivated by their desire to keep cash flowing to their states. “A lot of their power and clout back home is based on how much money they can bring home,” he argued.
DeMint said his party would be wise to take up the issue of ethics as a central fight, arguing that in recent weeks he has seen increasing interest across the country in his battle with Reid. “In some ways this is immigration all over again in that out in the public there’s a feeling that this is wasteful spending” and that Congress is failing to seriously address the issue, he said.
DeMint also has begun to reach out to the vast network of editorialists and talk radio hosts that backed his successful rebellion against the immigration debate and has been credited with giving DeMint and his supporters enough public support to defeat the bill.
Significantly, he also has begun to see support from other media outlets, which are not normally connected to the conservative world. For instance, the Los Angeles Times editorial board has come out in support of his work, DeMint noted, and he believes that people across the country are becoming increasingly upset with Congress’ handling of earmark reform.
DeMint — who calls the earmark process “one of the corrupting [forces] of Washington” — said McConnell has so far backed his efforts to force Reid to accept the Senate rule changes before conference to ensure no changes to the earmark reforms are made. “Mitch McConnell is very supportive of what I’ve been doing,” DeMint said, adding that “he’s asked me to work with Sen. Reid” to find a solution.
But Reid “has been stonewalling me,” DeMint said, and seemed skeptical that any solution appears imminent.
DeMint also said that regardless of his leadership’s complaints or demands — or those of the Senate’s old guard — he will not back down. “This isn’t a job I wanted, but I’m good at it,” he said, adding, “I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.