The Lawmakers Who Sponsor the Most Earmarks

Here are the top 10 senators and top 10 representatives who get the most cash for their states.

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Some of the most powerful politicians in Washington are calling for a change in one of the fundamental ways that Congress does business. Members of Congress have allotted over $16.5 billion in 2010 towards earmarks, provisions that lawmakers insert into bills to direct money to specific projects, usually in their home states or districts. These projects can cover a variety of functions, like agricultural research, road-building, and after-school programs. Now, in the final weeks of the 111th Congress, President Obama is calling for legislation to limit earmark spending. Top Republicans like Ohio Rep. John Boehner and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint have been leading the charge to ban earmarking altogether, citing it as a cause of wasteful spending.

Of course, some lawmakers are far more prolific than their colleagues in penning legislation that brings federal money to their states. Below are the top ten current senators and representatives who have sponsored the largest amount of earmarks in fiscal year 2010.

Senator State Party Earmark Amount Sponsored Number of Earmarks
Thad Cochran MS R $497,591,000 242
Daniel Inouye HI D 392,432,850 158
Roger Wicker MS R 368,039,000 163
Tom Harkin IA D 267,589,200  194
Chuck Schumer NY D 243,485,190 195
Carl Levin MI D 243,133,400 215
Harry Reid NV D 222,796,675 162
Patty Murray WA D 219,538,750 187
Dianne Feinstein CA D 211,298,500  158
Bob Bennett UT R 204,740,000  113
Representative State Party Earmark Amount Sponsored Number of Earmarks
Bill Young FL R $128,573,000 63
Earl Pomeroy ND D  121,740,350 48
Mazie Hirono HI D 116,633,900 63
Jim Moran VA D 107,440,000 83
Denny Rehberg MT R 103,514,200 89
Gregg Harper MS R 101,267,000 27
Jerry Lewis CA R 97,583,200 62
Rob Bishop UT R 93,980,000 47
Harold Rogers KY R  93,408,000 50
Chet Edwards TX D 90,450,000 56

Source: Data obtained from Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent, nonpartisan government watchdog organization.

In addition, eight Senators and 43 representatives did not request any earmarks for fiscal year 2010. Among these are several Republican Congress members who are among the most outspoken proponents of earmark reform, like DeMint and Boehner, as well as Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor.