Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii)
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Inouye is the Senate gatekeeper on discretionary spending.
He has resisted GOP cuts to spending and is a strong advocate of fiscal stimulus.
Inouye pushed an omnibus spending bill in December that would have increased overall spending while containing thousands of earmarks. This bill went down to defeat, presaging the months of spending talks that led to the April 8 spending deal.
A long time champion of earmarked spending, he reluctantly accepted an earmark moratorium on Feb. 1
“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. 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,” he said.
In an April 14 floor speech on the 2011 spending cuts deal, Inouye said he thought the compromise worked out between both parties, which spared many cherished Democratic programs from cuts, could offer a model for bigger deficit talks.
“Mr. President, I believe this bill provides a road map on how we can continue to work across party lines to achieve what is necessary for the country,” he said. “Both parties feel strongly about their recommendations and the structure of future budgets. The philosophical divisions are wide…. Because of this experience I became more optimistic that we can find a way to work with our House colleagues and come up with a deficit reduction plan that would represent all of our best efforts to act in the Country’s interest.”