Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced a moratorium on earmarks Tuesday afternoon. The action is essentially a two-year halt on all earmarks since it applies to fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
In a press release announcing the moratorium, Inouye said that while he supports the “constitutional right of members of Congress to direct investments into their states and districts,” the decision was made based on current political realities. The House already said it would not pass any bills that contained earmarks, and President Obama threatened to veto any law with earmarks.
“The handwriting is clearly on the wall,” said Inouye. “Give the reality before us, it makes no sense to accept earmark requests that have no chance of being enacted into law.”
In Inouye’s statement, he promised to revisit the issue next year, while getting in a shot in at President Obama.
“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.”
In the meantime, the Appropriations Committee is planning on sending a letter to members of Congress explaining what exactly will be defined as an earmark.
“If any member submits a request that is an earmark as defined by that rule,” said Inouye, “we will respectfully return the request.