SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Committee Announces Earmark Moratorium;
Alaska's Senators Disappointed


February 01, 2011
Tuesday PM

(SitNews) WASHINGTON, DC - United States Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, (D-HI) today announced that the Committee will implement a moratorium on earmarks for the current session of Congress. This amounts to a 2 year moratorium, as it will apply to both the FY 2011 and FY 2012 bills.

In response to the announcement, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski R-Alaska) said in a prepared statement, “I am disappointed in the decision to impose a two-year earmark moratorium. The Constitution clearly gives Congress the power of the purse and a moratorium on congressional earmarks will not reduce federal spending or the deficit by one cent. We are in essence abdicating our constitutional duties, giving cabinet departments and federal agencies the sole power, authority and ability to target and spend taxpayers’ money." 

Murkowski said, “While I will honor Sen. Inouye’s request not to submit earmark requests to the committee, it is still important for me to know the needs of Alaska. The best way to get that information is directly from individual Alaskans, so it will be my policy to continue to solicit that information from towns and communities across the state."

“Many of the funding sources we rely on in Alaska are formula-driven, not specific earmarks, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will be working hard to ensure that Alaska’s interests are protected and that the state continues to benefit from federally funded programs," said Murkowski. 

U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) doesn't agree with the ban on earmarks. In a prepared statement Begich said, “While I agree we need to look at every possible step to cut the deficit, I don’t agree with the decision to impose a two-year ban on earmarks. As I have said many times before, Alaska is a young state with many needs, and we deserve our fair share of federal funding to develop our resources and our infrastructure."

Begich said, “I will continue to take appropriations requests from Alaskans, and look for every available avenue to fight for Alaska’s unique needs, including competitive grant opportunities and authorizing bills through my seats on the Armed Services, Veterans, Commerce, and Homeland Security Committees."

“This decision by the Appropriations Chairman means it will be even more important for all of us to seriously consider what we really need, and then be creative when it comes to finding ways to fund the priorities of Alaska’s communities," said Begich.

In announcing the Earmark Moratorium today, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Inouye said in a prepared statement, "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."

Inouye said, "However, the handwriting is clearly on the wall. 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."

"The Appropriations Committee will thoroughly review its earmark policy to ensure that every member has a precise definition of what constitutes an earmark. 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," said Inouye.

Inouye said, "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. 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."


Sources of News:

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, (D-HI)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich

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