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Inouye Relents to Anti-Earmark Movement, for Now

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Staring at a House earmark ban and a presidential promise to veto any bill containing earmarks, Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye announced Tuesday that he would not seek to insert earmarks into spending bills this year.

“The handwriting is clearly on the wall,” the Hawaii Democrat said in a statement. “The President has stated unequivocally that he will veto any legislation containing earmarks, and the House will not pass any bills that contain them. Given the reality before us, it makes no sense to accept earmark requests that have no chance of being enacted into law.”

President Barack Obama vowed in his State of the Union address to wield his veto against earmarks, and the Republican majority in the House has instituted a two-year ban on the spending provisions. Inouye, who has long resisted attempts to limit Congressionally directed spending, said he continues “to support the Constitutional right of members of Congress to direct investments to their states and districts under the fiscally responsible and transparent earmarking process” that he said Democrats have put in place.

The Appropriations panel will provide Senators with guidance about what constitutes an earmark and will deny any requests that fall under that definition. Inouye said the panel will revisit the issue next year “when the consequences of this decision are fully understood” by lawmakers “and explore ways to improve the earmarking process.”

“At the appropriate time, I will once again urge the Senate to consider a transparent and fair earmark process that protects our rights as legislators to answer the petitions of our constituents, regardless of what the President or some Federal bureaucrat thinks is right,” Inouye said.

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