Washington (CNN) - Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, said Tuesday that he and several newly elected Tea Party-backed Republican senators will try to force GOP senators to give up earmarks altogether. The move is a direct challenge to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and other senior GOP senators who support earmarking funds for home state projects.
A vote on the proposal is expected next Tuesday when the Senate Republican Conference meets in the Capitol to formally elect its leaders and adopt GOP rules for the upcoming session of Congress.
A DeMint aide predicted a victory, in part, because of the many new senators who fervently oppose earmarks. However, two GOP leadership aides said the outcome is still an open question, and that senators are actively discussing the proposal with each other.
"Americans want Congress to shut down the earmark favor factory, and next week I believe House and Senate Republicans will unite to stop pork barrel spending," DeMint said, referencing the earmark moratorium House Republicans have in place. "Instead of spending time chasing money for pet projects, lawmakers will be able to focus on balancing the budget, reforming the tax code and repealing the costly health care takeover."
DeMint said he has support for his proposal from Republican senators-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. Veteran Republican senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, John Ensign of Nevada, Mike Enzi of Wyoming and John Cornyn of Texas also support it, DeMint said.
It's notable that DeMint is highlighting Cornyn's support.
Cornyn headed the Senate Republican campaign effort, and many Republicans complained that DeMint's support of Tea Party candidates undermined Cornyn's efforts to win GOP control of the Senate.
In a press release, DeMint said he would support a separate GOP conference rule proposed by Cornyn that would make it the policy of Senate Republicans to support a balanced budget amendment.
McConnell said on Sunday that he would "be willing to consider" a full ban on earmarks during an interview on CBS "Face the Nation." But the Republican leader added, "this debate doesn't save any money, which is why it's, kind of exasperating to some of us who really want to cut spending and get the federal government's discretionary accounts under control."