It turns out Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may seek earmarks next year, after all.
Speaking to reporters Thursday in the Capitol, Reid responded to the earmark ban announced by the Senate Appropriations Committee this week, saying it amounts to a “one-year moratorium” necessary to “get the appropriations bills done, and with [President Barack Obama’s veto threat] hanging over, we can’t get them done,” he said.
Asked if he might seek earmarks in 2012, Reid told POLITICO, “Sure.”
On Tuesday, the Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) said the committee would put a two-year moratorium into effect for both fiscal 2011 and 2012 spending bills. The decision followed Obama’s announcement during his State of the Union address that he’d veto bills with earmarks. House and Senate Republicans already swore off earmarks for two years.
But in Inouye’s statement on the moratorium, he left himself a little daylight.
“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,” Inouye said. “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.”
Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said that there’s nothing inconsistent between Reid’s and Inouye’s
“Sen. Reid agrees with Sen. Inouye that there will be no earmarks in appropriations bills this year,” the spokesman said. “As Sen. Inouye has said, we will reassess at the end of the year when we more fully understand the impacts of this policy.”