After months of resistance, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, announced Tuesday that he would enforce a ban on earmarks in all Senate spending bills, ending a cherished practice by lawmakers that had become a symbol of wasteful excess.
The moratorium, which will remain in place for two years, follows a similar move by the GOP-led House and a veto threat by President Obama in his State of the Union address last week. It’s the latest signal that Democrats are feeling political pressure on the issue of deficit reduction and are willing to consider measures that they until recently dismissed as posturing by their Republican adversaries.
Inouye has long argued that Congress has a constitutional imperative to direct spending as lawmakers deem necessary. Surrendering that power, the argument goes, will only strengthen the executive branch.