Top Senate appropriators decry earmark ban

Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and ranking member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) provided a tutorial on earmarks on the Senate floor Tuesday for anyone within earshot. 

Inouye and Cochran argued against an amendment offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) calling for a two-year ban in fiscal 2010 and 2011, to the FAA reauthorization bill on the floor today. 

Banning earmarks "won't save a penny," and only changes who gets to decide where the money is spent. "Earmarks aren't adding to the budget," he said. "The Constitution requires Congress to determine where the money should be spent."

Cochran agreed saying he "strongly disagreed" with the amendment. "I'm not willing to cede every spending decision to the executive branch."

Both Senators explained that overall spending would need to be cut to have an effect on the deficit. 

Still, DeMint defended his amendment saying it's "time to bring to a close, for at least a year," the use of earmarks to direct money to states and Congressional districts. "We weren't elected to bring home the bacon."

House Democrats announced last week that they will ban earmarks to for-profit companies. House Republicans followed with a ban on all earmarks for a year. 

The Senate voted to table the amendment, 68-29, with 15 GOP members voting against a moratorium.