By Sean Moran | Breitbart
Seven of the top 10 lawmakers who used earmarks recently are Senate Republicans, according to a report from Open the Books.
In March 2021, a split House Republican conference voted to overturn its years-long ban on earmarks. The renewed practice requires Republican lawmakers to write a justification for any earmark they want to sponsor and verify they have no financial stake in the earmark.
Those in favor of bringing back earmarks believe it would bring more power to Congress and can serve as a tool to rein in the Biden administration. Some House Republicans who support using earmarks also believe they could serve as an incentive for House Republican leadership to whip Republicans into voting for the legislation.
Conservatives largely derided the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, as lawmakers stuffed the bill with over 7,500 earmarks worth $16 billion.
OpenTheBooks, a nonprofit dedicated to government transparency, noted in a report this summer that Senate Republicans have went “hog wild” with earmarks in recent years. This includes:
- Sen. Shelby (R-AL) $656,406,000
- Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) $510,520,000
- Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) $489,632,000
- Sen. Hirono, Schatz (D-HI) $421,560,000
- Sen. Blunt (R-MO) $350,056,000
- Rep. Weber (R-TX) $287,537,000
- Sen. Graham (R-SC) $262,134,000
- Sen. Leahy (D-VT) $212,525,000
- Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) $204,735,000
- Sen. Collins, King (R-ME) $200,057,000
Many of these lawmakers that earmarked the most also retired soon after from Congress, including Shelby, Inhofe, Blunt, and Leahy.
Although the report finds many of the top lawmakers who earmarked are Senate Republicans, Democrats earmarked more money at $9.1 billion while Republicans earmarked less at $6.4 billion–and a bipartisan group of lawmakers earmarked $476 million.
Open the Books said that Republicans bringing back earmarks make it harder for the party to distinguish themselves from “big-spending Democrats”:
In the 2000s, members were being indicted, convicted, and serving jail sentences for corrupt earmarking. Infamously, Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), a bona fide Naval fighter pilot ace, was convicted for doling out earmarks and collecting bribes including a yacht, Rolls Royce, and Louis-Philippe commode.
By embracing earmarks, Republicans fumbled the first opportunity to distinguish themselves from big-spending Democrats.
“It’s time for a public, on-the-record, up or down vote on earmarks in the United States House of Representatives,” Open the Books added.