Reporting from Washington — The long congressional battle over specially-directed earmark spending came to a quiet close Tuesday as the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee announced a two-year ban on the practice.
The decision to prohibit earmarks reflects the political stalemate that arose as President Obama vowed to veto any legislation with the congressionally-directed spending. Republicans had already agreed to abandon the practice.
"The handwriting is clearly on the wall," said Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. "The president has stated unequivocally that he will veto any legislation containing earmarks, and the House will not pass any bills that contain them. Given the reality before us, it makes no sense to accept earmark requests that have no chance of being enacted into law."
Obama's veto promise during last week's State of the Union address offered a bridge to congressional Republicans on spending issues. But it put the president at odds with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, and others who support Congress' right to earmark funds for home states.