The Senate defeated an amendment for a two-year moratorium on earmarks in the food safety bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., by a margin of 39-56. Seven Republicans voted against the ban, and seven Democrats — including Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. — voted for the ban.

The earmarks ban is a cause celebre for the tea party faction of the party, and the only Republican senator who voted “no” on the ban facing a primary challenge in 2012 would be Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. Indiana tea party members were quoted in The New York Times and Politico last weekend saying a challenge to Lugar in 2012 is likely, especially after his advocacy for the START treaty with Russia on nuclear arms.

Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas — who both may well face a 2012 tea party-led primary challenge — voted for the ban after voting against one in March. Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill, Mo., and Bill Nelson, Fla. — two senators in Republican-leaning states up for reelection in 2012 — voted for the ban.

Even if the amendment did pass, it might not have become law anyway, as the food safety bill has to go to the House-Senate conference to work out differences between the two versions of the bill.

Luke Johnson reports on Florida for The American Independent.

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