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McConnell backs earmark ban

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday he will support an earmark ban in the Senate Republican conference, a move that appears to leave House Democrats as the sole supporters of pork-barrel spending.

"I will join the Republican leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress," Mr. McConnell said.

Speaking from the Senate floor, the Kentucky Republican said the recent election showed us that "Americans know the difference between talking about change and actually delivering on it."

"On the issue of Congressional earmarks as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example," Mr. McConnell said, adding that he does not apologize for requesting earmarks in the past.

"There is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight," he said. "Unless people like me show the American people they are willing to follow through on their small or even symbolic things we risk losing them on the broader arguments to cut spending and rein in government."

The comments come after Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, and a group of like-minded conservatives called on the Republicans to follow in the footsteps of the House GOP by adopting a rule barring conference members from requesting earmarks.

Last week, President Obama signaled a willingness to work with Senate Republicans on the issue.

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