Senate Democrats dealt a near-fatal blow to earmarks on Tuesday, giving in to the demands of President Barack Obama and House Republicans who have pushed for their demise.
A renowned earmarker, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), announced that his panel will ban earmarks from any bills in the next two years, a move that would effectively block senators from sending money to their home states in spending bills.
Not only is the decision a bruising loss for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who squared off with the president last week, but also a signal of how seriously Washington plans to take public criticism of its spendthrift ways, which helped usher in a new GOP majority in the House last fall.
The earmarking process has been in limbo since Obama pledged during his State of the Union address last week that he would veto any bill that arrives at his desk riddled with the pet projects. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had already outlawed earmarks in the House.
Reid, meanwhile, vowed to fight the White House, telling the president to “back off.” But in the end, Reid was backed into a corner: He couldn’t get a bill with earmarks through the House, and even if he had, the president would have blocked its final passage.
“The handwriting is clearly on the wall,” Inouye 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.”
Senate Panel Bans Earmarks
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