Inouye: No earmarks for the next two years

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Tuesday said he would not accept requests for earmarks for the next two years -- a move that comes after President Obama said in his State of the Union address that he would not sign any bills with earmarks.

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

The move also comes after House and Senate Republicans have agreed not to seek earmarks for the two years of the 112th Congress.

Despite the ban Inouye said he still supports the idea of members directing funding back to their states.

"I continue 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 we have established," he said.

"The Appropriations Committee will thoroughly review its earmark policy to ensure that every member has a precise definition of what constitutes an earmark," Inouye added. "To that end, we will send each member a letter with the interpretation of Rule XLIV (44) that will be used by the Committee. If any member submits a request that is an earmark as defined by that rule, we will respectfully return the request."

Inouye expects leaders to revisit the issue next year.

"Next year, when the consequences of this decision are fully understood by the members of this body, we will most certainly revisit this issue and explore ways to improve the earmarking process," Inouye said. "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."

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