Inouye defends omnibus appropriations bill

“If this election was about public distaste for earmarks why did I receive a higher percentage of votes than any other member of this body who had an opponent?  Why is it that virtually all of my colleagues who took credit for earmarks will be coming back next year?” Inouye added.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday abandoned plans to bring the 1,924 page bill, which wrapped 12 appropriations bills into one package funding the government until Sept. 30. He said that as many as nine Republicans has been prepared to vote for the omnibus but they had backed out under pressure over earmarks in the bill. The omnibus contained $8 billion in earmarks.

Inouye said in his view the November midterms were about “gridlock and partisan gamesmanship.”

“And what we saw in the past 24 hours was more of the same.  Endless delaying tactics followed by decision making by partisan point scoring rather than what is good for our nation,” he said.

Inouye's floor speech highlighted the painstaking work appropriators and staff from both parties had put into crafting the omnibus.

He also detailed what he said were vital programs that will be starved of funding because the bill was abandoned. These include funding for better armor for Stryker armored vehicles to protect troops in the field, improved military medical care, funding for Pell grants, and more funding for the Transportation Security Administration to better prevent terrorist attacks.

Inouye noted that the bill provided $29 billion less than President Obama had requested in his budget message for 2011 and had adhered to a spending ceiling, sponsored by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and adopted by a bipartisan Senate majority this year.