By SCOTT WONG – One day after Republicans challenged them to reject earmarks, Senate Democrats huddled behind closed doors Wednesday and held a “long discussion” on the practice as part of a larger debate over how to balance the federal budget and erase mounting debt.
“There was a long discussion,” said retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), adding that the caucus agreed not to speak publicly about any details since no agreement had been reached.
“Strong words were expressed on both sides and so I think, at some point, we’re going to have a consensus statement,” he added.
But Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the longest-serving senator and a prolific earmarker, downplayed the discussion.
“We had some people discussing it I don’t want to go beyond that,” he said.
How long was that discussion? “A few minutes,” Inouye replied.