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Inouye: Committee to implement earmark moratorium

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 5:32 p.m. HST, Feb 1, 2011

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye says the Senate Appropriations Committee he chairs plans to implement a moratorium on earmarks during the current session in Congress.

Inouye, the longest-serving senator and chairman of the Appropriations Committee says he still backs earmarks but that "the writing is on the wall" after Obama promised in last week's State of the Union speech to veto any bills containing earmarks. House Speaker John Boehner had already orchestrated an earmark ban in the House.

Inouye says "it makes no sense to accept earmark requests that have no chance of being enacted into law."

Inouye is an avid user of earmarks, sending hundreds of millions of dollar back to Hawaii for new roads, grants to local police departments and community development funds, among other things. As chairman of the committee, Inouye said he won't accept earmark requests.

The senator says when the time is right, he plans to urge senators to consider a transparent and fair earmark process "that protects our rights as legislators to answer the petitions of our constituents."

Hawaii beneficiaries of earmarks say they've been preparing for the day when they would lose earkmark spending.

Honolulu-based high-technology company Oceanit had been up for a $10 million Inouye-sponsored earmark for the development of a system to track satellites and space debris.

Oceanit's Ian Kitajima says the company planned its budget so it will be able to develop the technology regardless. But now it will probably have to move more slowly because it won't be able to dedicate as many people to the project.

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