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The debate also took center stage at times during the campaign season, where nearly every non-incumbent GOP Senate candidate and a slew of House hopefuls tried to ease voter concern over federal spending by swearing off earmarks themselves and showing a willingness to stop the practice entirely.

The other Republican senators who signed off on the earmark-policy change included: John Cornyn of Texas, John Ensign of Nevada and Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, along with Sens.-elect Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

Asked whether House Republican leaders were pushing Mr. McConnell to embrace a moratorium, Michael Steel, spokesman for Rep. John A. Boehner, said, “Rep. Boehner leaves running the Senate to Sen. McConnell.”

The apparent split is creating an interesting political dynamic on Capitol Hill, where Mr. Boehner appears to be getting more outright support from President Obama than Mr. McConnell.

As a senator, Mr. Obama, like most of his colleagues, initially requested earmarks. But by 2008, in the midst of the presidential campaign, he had sworn off them, and even voted for a failed earmark moratorium offered by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential candidate.

Following the midterm elections last week, Mr. Obama told reporters that in a rush to get things done the last two years, he signed a bunch of bills with earmarks in them and that “I’ve got to take responsibility” in the fight against pork-barrel spending.

“I’m a strong believer that the earmarking process in Congress isn’t what the American people really want to see when it comes to making tough decisions about how taxpayer dollars are spent,” he said.

Mr. Obama also said that he was open to talking with House Republicans about their plan to extend their moratorium.

“That’s something I think we can work on together,” he said.