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GOP Earmark Rift Goes Public With Inhofe-DeMint Standoff

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Meanwhile, Republicans are preparing a series of other policy resolutions aimed at demonstrating the GOP’s commitment to cutting spending and the deficit, including a balanced budget resolution and a resolution on entitlement spending.

DeMint lined up the support of 10 colleagues before announcing his proposal: Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas), as well as Sens.-elect Pat Toomey (Pa.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.).

Republicans said the 10 should provide a solid base of support to secure passage of the proposal, in part because many lawmakers who support earmarking are wary of becoming targets of the tea party movement in the next primary season.

Inhofe argues that Congress has a constitutional role to play in deciding where federal funds should be spent, and he accused anti-earmark crusaders of essentially bullying Republicans into supporting a ban. “They’ve been demagoguing for so long ... they probably will get [the votes] because people are so afraid to be honest,” he said.

Even freshmen who were elected with tea party support are not immune from the pressure, Inhofe said, pointing to statements recently made by Paul that he, like McConnell, would support earmarks for his state.

“I’m pretty disappointed that so many of the tea party [candidates] would be intimidated into taking such a bad vote,” Inhofe said.

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