WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), National Journal magazine’s top-ranked Senate Conservative, today posed a choice for the U.S. Senate:  support reducing the deficit by $1 trillion or support giving President Obama more money to spend on his liberal priorities.                     

In forcing the Senate to vote on his Honest Expenditure Limitation Program (HELP) Act of 2010 as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Air Modernization and Safety Improvement Act currently moving through the Senate as H.R.1586, he provided an opportunity for Senators to vote for real spending reforms instead of an earmark ban shell game.  While Inhofe’s amendment received bipartisan support, it ultimately failed by a vote of 41-56. 

“Banning all earmarks will not save a dime, because it will just shift spending to the Executive Branch,” Inhofe said.  “My measure will actually save close to $1 trillion taxpayer dollars over a 10 year period.  Today’s federal spending is being financed on the backs of our kids and grandkids.  Congress must take action to reduce spending, and this bill provides a real way of taking control of runaway spending.” 


  • The proposal would freeze discretionary spending at FY08 levels for all “non-security” appropriations, which exclude Defense, Homeland Security, State, Veterans Administration, and national security functions of Energy.
  • The spending freeze at the 2008 level would be phased in over 5 years from FY11 to FY15, reducing the cap by an equal percentage each year.  From FY15 to FY20, the cap would remain at the FY08 level until the legislation expires at the end of FY20.
  • The freeze would be enforced through sequestration.  Any total non-security appropriations enacted that breach the FY08 cap would be tallied by the Office of Management and Budget and excess amounts above the cap would be rescinded through an across-the-board cut by the Administration (compelled by law).  This proposal would ensure that a major portion of the federal budget is subjected to a credible and effective spending restraint. 
  • A 67-vote Point Of Order in the Senate would be triggered by any appropriations bill that causes the total non-security discretionary cap for a Fiscal Year to be breached. It would also be triggered by a provision in any legislation, amendment, or conference report that attempted to legislatively exempt new spending from sequestration. The type of sequestration process this proposal contemplates existed in the 1990s with limited success because Congress would routinely use legislation to exempt new spending from the process.  The Point Of Order would make doing so much more difficult.
  • Spending for overseas military operations would be exempt from the cap.
  • Using the Obama Administration’s own numbers and assumptions, this proposal would save $634 billion more than enacting Obama’s proposed spending freeze by 2020, and it would save close to $1 trillion over the same 10 years compared to doing nothing.