Updated: 11:13 a.m.House Republicans will convene a special conference meeting Thursday at 3 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center to determine whether they will implement a yearlong moratorium on earmarks. Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced the session during the regular GOP Conference meeting Wednesday. Afterward, Boehner said, I think its time for our Members to sit down and have a real adult conversation about whether we really are willing to do whats necessary to come all the way back.Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who has advocated for a unilateral earmark moratorium in the past, said Boehners request for a special meeting on the issue represented a significant escalation of this debate.Republican leaders have tried several times to persuade Members to agree to a short-term moratorium on earmarks, but they have failed to the gain support of the majority of the Conference.The new Republican push comes as House Democrats push an earmark ban of their own. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Monday that he worried Republicans would miss a huge political opportunity if they failed to enact such a moratorium before Democrats. I warned my leadership for years that we could be outflanked on this, he said. I think Democrats have seen the writing on the wall.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.