The earmark issue has reemerged in recent days as a hot topic, pressed by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillSenators introduce dueling miners bills GOP must avoid Dems' mistakes when replacing ObamaCare Live coverage: Mattis confirmation hearing for Pentagon MORE (D-Mo.), who have offered an amendment to the pending Stock Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act that would establish a permanent ban in the upper chamber.
The amendment is on a list of expected votes scheduled for Thursday afternoon. It would need 60 votes to pass.
Toomey called Inouye's decision "a small but important victory for American taxpayers."
"It is unlikely that this decision would have occurred without the heightened attention raised this week by the Toomey-McCaskill Earmark Elimination Act," he said in a statement.
Despite this small victory, our work is not done. Today, the Senate will have an opportunity to vote on an amendment introduced by Sen. McCaskill and myself that will permanently ban earmarks and eliminate the loopholes in the current moratorium. I hope my colleagues will join us in supporting this important amendment.”
The Toomey-McCaskill provision is unlikely to get the support it needs, especially considering that six sitting Republican senators voted in the 111th Congress against considering a three-year earmark moratorium: Sens. Thad CochranThad CochranGOP senators voice misgivings about short-term spending bill Trump's wrong to pick Bannon or Sessions for anything Bottom Line MORE (Miss.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsDeVos vows to be advocate for 'great' public schools GOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday Five things to watch in round two of Trump confirmation fights MORE (Maine), James InhofeJames InhofeSenate teeing up Mattis waiver Lawmakers play nice at Russia hacking hearing Senate chairman meets Trump’s EPA nominee MORE (Okla.), Dick Lugar (Ind.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiTrump education pick to face Warren, Sanders Schumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal 9 GOP senators Trump must watch out for MORE (Alaska) and Richard Shelby (Ala.).
Republicans and Democrats have argued that they best understand the needs of their states and should be able to direct funding.
“Over the past year, many of my colleagues have learned the hard way that being forced to request essential funding for their state puts them at a distinct disadvantage, and in many cases leaves them open to unseemly bargaining with the executive branch," Inouye said.
"In the end, the Congress will have to choose between an open and transparent method for allocating targeted funding or one that is done with phone calls, conversations, winks, and nods," he said.
"One method allows for accountability and another leaves us all at the whim of unelected bureaucrats.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDems want Sessions to recuse himself from Trump-Russia probe Ryan says Trump, GOP 'in complete sync' on ObamaCare Congress has a mandate to repeal ObamaCare MORE (D-Nev.), who supports the practice, said earlier this week that he wouldn't "be driven down this path that is one that I think is taking us away from what the Founding Fathers wanted: three separate but equal branches of government.”
“I do not believe that the White House has the authority to tell me how I should spend money in Nevada.”
The Senate adopted a moratorium on earmarks before the start of the 112th Congress, but many lawmakers oppose a long-term ban because it would limit Congress's power of the purse.
Reid has said he expects that earmarking would eventually return. And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellGOP senators introducing ObamaCare replacement Monday Senators introduce dueling miners bills Dems demand second hearing for Trump's Education nominee MORE (Ky.), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, has not taken a public stance on the bill.
President Obama has expressed support for ending the practice and said in his 2011 State of the Union address that he would veto any bill that included earmarks.
— Alexander Bolton contributed to this story.
This story was updated at 3:25 p.m.