Issue Report ● Congress
For Immediate Release: 
March 10, 2010
Contact Info: 

Katie Grant
Stephanie Lundberg
(202) 225 - 3130

As Democrats continue to work to strengthen the economy and restore fiscal responsibility, Republicans are trying to forget their record. For years when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House, they did not implement earmark reforms – and in fact, the number of earmarks exploded. Just last year in January 2009, Republican Leader John Boehner and Whip Eric Cantor created the Republican Earmark Reform Committee and pledged to issue a detailed report on how Republicans would reform the earmark process. To date, after more than a year, no report has appeared. Unfortunately for Republicans, history shows that they’re all talk when it comes to reform and proves which Party leads the charge on earmark reform.

Reforms Under Democrats:

Reforms Under Republicans = 0

Today, the House Appropriations Committee banned earmarks directed to for-profit entities.

In January 2009, at the beginning of the 111th Congress, House Democrats continued their commitment to strong accountability and transparency by passing additional earmark reforms, including:

  • Requiring Members to publicly disclose all of their earmark requests (Beginning with FY10 bills).
  • Requiring even earlier public disclosure, by requiring all earmark disclosures be made public the same day that the subcommittee reports the bill (Beginning with FY10 bills).
  • Reducing earmarks by more than 43 percent below the FY06 level. For the FY10 bills, earmark funding levels will be reduced to 50 percent below the FY06 level.

In the 110th Congress, House Democrats passed strong earmark reform and reduced the dollar amount going to earmarks by more than 43% below the FY06 level. The new rules included:

  • Requiring Members to disclose their earmarks in bills.
  • Requiring Members to certify that they and their spouses have no personal financial interest in the request.
  • Prohibiting trading earmarks for votes
  • Requiring committees of jurisdiction and conference committees to publish lists of the earmarks contained in the reported bills, unreported bills, manager’s amendments, and conference reports brought to the House Floor; a Member may make a point of order against consideration of any rule that waives this requirement.

Republicans did not implement earmark reforms while they controlled the White House and Congress.

Under Republican leadership, the number of earmarks nearly quadrupled – from 4,000 in 1994 to over 15,000 at the end of the 109th Congress in 2005 – including massive increases to the following bills:

  • Labor-Health-Education Appropriations:
    • Under Democrats in FY 1994: Virtually none
    • Under Republicans in FY 2000: 491 earmarks
    • Under Republicans, in FY 2005: 3,014 earmarks totaling $1.2 billion
  • Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations:
    • Under Democrats, FY 1994: 140 earmarks
    • Under Republicans, FY 2005: 2,094 earmarks totaling $3.3 billion
  • Highway Authorization Bill
    • From 1956-1990: 739 earmarks
    • Under Republicans in 2005 ALONE: 5,000 earmarks, totaling $24 billion

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