The fate of earmarking in this Congress remains unresolved and will continue to be debated without much of a resolution in sight. House Republicans adopted a moratorium on earmarks, which led to members of the new majority seeking for clarification on what defines an "earmark." Senate Republicans followed suit by taking the same position as the House majority, while Senate Democrats have yet to formally announce their position. Just last week, several new cardinals questioned how long the ban would be in place—a question for which no one seems to have an answer for.
Even with the uncertainty surrounding earmarks themselves, there is greater uncertainty over the actual earmarking process, meaning that appropriations bills will likely continue to present challenges and opportunities for the 112th Congress. The debate will certainly continue over the actual definition of an earmark, and spending will almost certainly be reduced. The continuing resolution (CR) that will fund the government until March 4, 2011, will likely become a full year CR with some additional cuts. Members of Congress have reacted to strong public opinion that, albeit misguided at times, is opposed to earmarks. On the other hand, some members see value in earmarks, such as the ones that created the Iraq Study Group, body armor for U.S. troops, and not ending total authority over spending to the White House. The one certainty that remains is that the earmark debate will continue.