(CNN) - Mitt Romney's jumping into the battle over earmarks.
The former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Monday announced that he's launching an on-line petition supporting Sen. Jim DeMint's push to ban legislative earmarks. Romney, who is considering a bid for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, is launching the petition through "Free and Strong America PAC," his political action committee.
"Senator DeMint is courageously standing on conviction with his much-needed proposal to ban earmarks, which will curb wasteful spending and restore accountability to the way Congress spends taxpayer dollars," says Romney, in an email to supporters. "We all need to recognize that Washington can't responsibly begin to address out-of-control debt and deficits until the practice of cramming earmarks into spending bills is stopped. While earmarks are not the only cause of our budget problems, they have come to symbolize what's wrong with Washington."
DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina who was just overwhelming re-elected to a second term, is leading an effort by conservative Republicans in the chamber to ban earmarks, which are a legislative provision that allows lawmakers to direct approved funds to specific projects.
DeMint became very influential in the GOP primaries earlier this year by backing conservative Tea Party backed Senate candidates, often at odds with the Senate Republican leadership.
A rules change pitched by DeMint and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is scheduled to be voted on Tuesday by the Republican Senate Conference. The non-binding rules change calls on all GOP Senators to unilaterally ban earmarks for the next two years. The ban would not affect Democratic senators to add spending measures to future bills. DeMint's move had been opposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as other Senate Republicans, but McConnell changed his position Monday potentially indicating a sea-change on the topic.
Friday House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, who will become House speaker come January, and Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor, announced that they will hold a GOP conference vote to ban earmarks, one of the proposals outlined in their "Pledge with America" released earlier this year.
The push to ban earmarks may have some support from President Barack Obama. In his Saturday internet and radio address, the president said "I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who've recently said that in these challenging days, we can't afford what are called earmarks."
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN