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|
|Representative||State||Party||Earmark Amount Sponsored||Number of Earmarks|
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.