Sen. McConnell Caves, Backs Earmarks Ban
Minority leader bows to pressure from DeMint, Tea Partiers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2010 2:03 AM CST
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio (right) swap positions at the microphones during a news conference on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has apparently decided that he'd rather battle Democrats than members of his own party. The Republican, under pressure from conservative senators led by South Carolina Tea Party backer Jim DeMint, has reversed his position and announced his support for a ban on earmarks, reports the Washington Post. McConnell, estimated to have steered some $1 billion in pet projects to Kentucky, had previously held firm in defending earmarks.

McConnell's change in position came after DeMint rallied enough senators to make it certain that the minority leader would be defeated if the issue came to a vote. "I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don't apologize for them," said McConnell. "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."