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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Earmarks Disclosed by Congress: FY2008-FY2010 Regular Appropriations Bills

Carol Hardy Vincent
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

Jim Monke
Specialist in Agricultural Policy

In 2007, both the House and the Senate established new earmark transparency procedures. They provide for public disclosure of approved earmarks and the identification of their congressional sponsors. These procedures currently are contained in House Rule XXI, clause 9, and Senate Rule XLIV. Under both chambers' rules, an earmark is a provision in legislation or report language that is included primarily at the request of a Member, and provides, authorizes, or recommends a specific amount to an entity or to a specific state, locality, or congressional district. 

This report summarizes the earmarks disclosed for the 12 regular, annual appropriations bills for each of FY2008, FY2009, and FY2010. For these bills, a list of earmarks was typically included in the explanatory statement accompanying the final version of the bill under the heading "Disclosure of Earmarks and Congressionally Directed Spending Items." This report does not pertain to any earmarks disclosed in supplemental appropriations or authorizing legislation. 

This report directly analyzes the data in the earmark disclosure lists, without additions or deletions. For individual earmarks, the disclosures typically identify the federal agency, project name, amount, and requester. In some cases, other information also has been included, such as an account within an agency, or the purpose or location of the earmark. 

In FY2010, Congress identified 11,320 earmarks with a total value of $32.0 billion. Some appropriations bills account for more earmarks than others (Table 2). For instance, about fourfifths of the 11,320 earmarks in FY2010 are in five of the 12 appropriations bills. The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies appropriations bill contains the greatest number of FY2010 earmarks—2,293, about 20% of the total number of earmarks. 

The distribution of the value of earmarks is more concentrated, with about $27.5 billion, or 86%, of the value of earmarks in four of the appropriations bills. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies appropriations bill contains the greatest value of FY2010 earmarks—$14.5 billion, about 45% of the total value. Some appropriations bills account for fewer earmarks but have a greater share of the value, or vice versa. 

House and Senate rules do not require congressional disclosure of presidentially requested earmarks. However, nine appropriations bills in FY2010 list the President as a requester, either solely or with a Member of Congress, for 2,039 earmarks worth $21.8 billion (18% of the total number and 68% of the total value of earmarks in the disclosure lists). It is possible that there are more presidential earmarks than those disclosed by Congress. There were 9,281 Member-only earmarks worth $10.2 billion (82% of the total number and 32% of the total value, Table 3). 

From FY2008 to FY2010, the total number of appropriations earmarks in all 12 bills decreased 12%, from 12,810 to 11,320. However, the total value of earmarks increased 11%, from $28.9 billion to $32.0 billion (Table 5). The percentage of the total appropriation that was earmarked decreased from 1.8% in FY2008 to 1.5% in FY2010. Excluding mandatory spending, the percentage of non-mandatory appropriations that were earmarked fell from 2.9% to 2.4%. Both the number and value of President-only earmarks increased since FY2008 (from 819 earmarks worth $4.2 billion in FY2008, to 1,265 earmarks worth $9.5 billion in FY2010; up 54% by number and 126% by value). Conversely, the number and value of Member-only earmarks decreased since FY2008, from 11,117 earmarks worth $12.5 billion in FY2008, to 9,281 earmarks worth $10.2 billion in FY2010, down 17% by number and 19% by value (Table 6). 

Date of Report: April 16, 2010
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: R40976
Price: $29.95

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