Earmarks have been abandoned by most congressional Republicans, pushed by results from the midterm elections. Senate Democrats will have a difficult time supporting earmarks, both now in the lame duck session and next year.
The size of the GOP freshman class in both the House and Senate means that Republican leadership will have to take it seriously. The earmark ban in the Senate, adopted by Republicans Tuesday, represents an early victory.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to back a ban on earmarks. 'Pork barrel' projects in appropriations bills account for between 1 and 2 percent of total federal spending.
Pressure from tea party-backed Republican freshmen senators led Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell to reverse course: He said Monday he would back an earmark ban.
In a letter to Republican leaders, tea party members advise the GOP to avoid culture-war social issues such as gay rights and abortion and to focus on reducing deficit and role of government.
Republicans plan an all-out assault on the new health-care reform law, which they see as the biggest symbol of over-reach by Democrats. President Obama's veto pen is the first defense.
President Obama appears to be open to working with Republicans to extend Bush-era tax cuts. Keeping today's lower tax rates for the wealthy, temporarily, appears to be on the table.
Senate Republicans have blocked subpoena power for President Obama's oil spill commission. The commission's chief counsel will push for it again, arguing it's needed to learn the truth about the Deepwater Horizon rig.