In a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation this morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had kind words for Tea Party activists, who energized the GOP base but whose candidates likely cost Republicans control of the Senate. At the same time, though, he threw cold water on one of the movement's top goals -- an elimination of earmarks -- by noting that without Congressional input, President Obama will get to make most decisions on how federal money gets spent.
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"Tea Party activists will continue to energize our party and challenge us to follow through on our commitments," McConnell said.
The Tea Party's top ally in the Senate is Jim DeMint (R-SC), who's also McConnell's main rival within the GOP caucus. DeMint plans to put the Republican conference on the spot about an earmark moratorium as soon as Congress returns. DeMint told the National Journal, "The first test vote will probably be as soon as we get back later in November: Will Republicans vote to ban earmarks ... to help a moratorium on earmarks? Because that's the rule change I'm going to bring forward and I think we'll see right away in the House and in the Senate whether or not Republicans are serious about what they ran on."
And yesterday, President Obama said he'd be happy to work with Republicans on such an initiative: "That's something I think we can -- we can work on together."
But McConnell says no way.