Murkowski Fears Impact of Earmark Ban

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski fears the new anti-earmark climate in Washington, D.C. will hurt programs important to Alaska.

Members of Murkowski’s own Republican Party have voted to voluntarily stop using earmarks in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. And one of the Senate’s biggest earmark proponents in the past, Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye, has banned the pet projects for two years in the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he chairs.

Murkowski uses fisheries research performed in Alaska by federal, state and private agencies as an example of earmark-funded projects that could be threatened by the ban.

Murkowski says senators are trying to work out how to continue funding some programs that might be considered earmarks, possibly through agency budgets.

She says there are “very, very wide differences” between the House and Senate right now. The Republican-led House last week passed a continuing resolution to keep funding the federal government that included more than 500 amendments and cut spending by about 60-billion dollars. Murkowski says don’t expect many of those amendments to survive the Senate.

Congress must pass some sort of continuing resolution in the next week, or the federal government will shut down. Murkowski doesn’t expect that to happen. She thinks a deal will be struck on either a short term extension of the current resolution, or one that includes some agreed upon budget cuts.

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