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Inouye Spending Bill Includes Thousands of Earmarks

Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye has drafted an omnibus spending bill that would set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for thousands of earmarks.

A draft of the omnibus bill prepared for introduction by the Hawaii Democrat began circulating Tuesday afternoon on Capitol Hill. It is not clear when the Senate might take it up. 

Inouye introduced his measure later in the day, and he intends to offer it on the Senate floor as a substitute for a continuing resolution the House approved last week. The House bill provided funding for all federal agencies for the rest of the fiscal year and singled out some specific projects for funding, but it eliminated all earmarks requested by individual Members.

Inouye’s measure runs nearly 2,000 pages and includes thousands of earmarks, detailed in charts that will be wrapped into an “explanatory statement” to travel with the bill.

“While I appreciate the work that the House has done in producing a full year Continuing Resolution, I do not believe that putting the government on autopilot for a full year is in the best interest of the American people,” he said in a statement. “As an example, who among us believes we should base our spending recommendations for defense, homeland security and veterans on whatever level was needed last year?”

Inouye’s bill wraps up individual spending measures that were never approved this year for dozens of federal agencies.

In section after section of the draft bill, there is language setting aside millions of dollars to be spent on projects detailed in the explanatory statement.

For instance, a Small Business Administration provision provides “$47,575,000 to remain available until September 30, 2012, which shall be for initiatives related to small business development and entrepreneurship, including programmatic and construction activities, in the amounts and for the projects specified in the table that appears under the heading ‘Administrative Provisions — Small Business Administration’ in the explanatory statement to accompany this Act.” 

Likewise, an Energy Department provision provides that “$211,580,000 shall be used for the projects specified in the table that appears under the heading ‘Congressionally Directed Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects’” in the explanatory statement.

The Appropriations Committee did not post the explanatory statement with the bill, but it did post individual spreadsheets for various sections of the legislation, listing thousands of individual earmarks to be funded.

In recognition of House Democrats’ prohibition against earmarks directed to for-profit entities, the draft omnibus language states that “specific projects contained in the explanatory statement accompanying this Act that are considered congressional earmarks … and are attributed to members of the House of Representatives in the Disclosure of Earmarks and Congressionally Directed Spending Items, shall not be awarded if the entity listed is a for-profit entity.”

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