December 7, 2010

Are you ever curious about the extent of Congress’ hunger for earmarks? Today, Taxpayers Against Earmarks, Taxpayers for Common Sense and WashingtonWatch.com released a fascinating and detailed database showing that members of both parties requested nearly 40,000 earmarks worth more than $130 billion for fiscal year 2011. Strikingly, this occurred despite the House Republican self-imposed earmark moratorium and House Democrats’ vow to eliminate earmarks to for-profit companies.

To be clear, the data represents member requests, not the total amount allocated. But the fact that so many requests transpired in spite of the restraints in place over the last year is quite revealing. The Republican conference already has instituted a moratorium on earmarks, but Democrats have not followed suit. So how will things play out in the next Congress? As the database shows, Republicans were still requesting earmarks this past year despite their self-imposed moratorium. Will the earmarking process go underground like in the bad old days? Will a few renegade Republicans continue to earmark along with the Democrats?

Whether you are for or against earmarks, at the very least the process should be thoroughly transparent. Kudos to Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Against Earmarks and WashingtonWatch.com for putting this valuable data together. In the meantime, for those members of Congress that continue to earmark, CREW – along with a bipartisan working group of good governance groups and lobbyists – have set forth a pragmatic, commonsense program for real earmark reform. Click here for details.