“And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government,” he added.
The move came on the eve of a Senate Republican caucus vote on Tuesday that was shaping up as an early test of the clout the 16-member GOP freshmen class – the largest class for Republicans since 1980.
Republican freshmen Sens.-elect Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Mike Lee of Utah took the lead organizing GOP freshmen to push for an earmark ban, despite the expected opposition of current Senate GOP leaders. On Friday, Mr. Lee, in an e-mail, called on the GOP caucus to hold a public, recorded vote on this issue, rather than the scheduled vote by secret ballot.
“The public has decided that both [parties] are untrustworthy,” said Mr. Paul, a tea party leader whose primary victory against a GOP establishment-backed rival was an early sign of the impact of conservative protesters in the 2010 election. Earmarks are a key issue because they “symbolize the waste up here, and people are annoyed by [them],” he said, in between freshmen orientation sessions on Monday.