A consortium of three groups, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Against Earmarks, and WashingtonWatch.com, has done an analysis of the thousands of earmarks contained in the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill that has been passed in the House and is now under consideration in the Senate. The groups have found that in the House, Democrats are not only the most enthusiastic earmarkers — they're almost the only earmarkers. And in the Senate, Democrats are pushing nearly three times as many earmarks as Republicans.
Breaking down earmark requests by party, the groups found that House Democrats have requested 18,189 earmarks, for a total of $51.7 billion, while House Republicans have requested 241 earmarks for a total of $1 billion. (The groups say just 4 GOP lawmakers requested any earmarks at all.)
All ten of the Top 10 House earmarkers, based on the total dollar value of requested earmarks, are Democrats. The leader of the group is Rep. James Clyburn, who requested $1.3 billion in earmarks — more than all Republican earmark requests combined. After that are Democratic Reps. Edwards, Cleaver, Kilpatrick, Wasserman Schultz, Cuellar, Jackson Lee, Rothman, Hastings, and Sires.
When you count the total number of House earmarks, rather than dollar value, the Top 10 are still all Democrats. Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan requested 276 earmarks, followed by Democratic Reps. Rothman, Clyburn, Bishop, Hinchey, Engel, Kilpatrick, Brady, Wasserman Schultz, and Hastings.
In the Senate, there are more Republican earmarkers, but Democrats still lead the way. The groups found that Senate Democrats have requested 15,133 earmarks, for a total of $54.9 billion, while Senate Republicans have requested 5,352 earmarks, for a total of $22 billion.
Looking at the Top 10 Senate earmarkers as measured by the total dollar value of earmarks requested, there are seven Democrats and three Republicans. The leader of the pack is Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who requested $4.4 billion in earmarks. The other Democratic earmarkers are Sens. Menendez, Lincoln, Bingaman, Pryor, Levin, and Specter, while the top Republican earmarkers are Wicker, Brownback, and Cochran.
When you count the total number of Senate earmarks, rather than dollar value, there are eight Democrats and two Republicans in the Top 10. The leader is Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, with 855 earmarks. The other Democrats in the group are Landrieu, Lautenberg, Levin, Udall, Specter, Murray, and Bingaman, while the Republicans are Wicker and Cochran. (When it comes to GOP earmarkers, the leaders are either leaving the Senate, as is Sam Brownback, or from Mississippi, as are Wicker and Cochran.)
Some news accounts have stressed the bipartisan nature of earmark requests in the $1.1 trillion spending bill. While that's accurate for the Senate — although there are far more Democratic earmarks than Republican — it's absolutely not true of the House. Perhaps the House Republicans' new anti-earmark fervor will prove temporary, but so far, they're mostly abiding by their no-earmark pledge.